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To honor Black history, fund our front-line heroes

AFSCME President Lee Saunders and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II address delegates to AFSCME’s 42nd International Convention in Las Vegas on July 20, 2016. (Photo by Tessa Berg)
By Lee Saunders and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II ·

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt of a column published on Medium. To access the entire column, go here.

You cannot add jobs by subtracting jobs.

That is the simple truth behind desperately needed aid for states, cities, towns and schools. Over the last year, some 1.3 million public service jobs, many of them held by African Americans – including nurses, teachers, EMTs and sanitation workers – have evaporated because of holes the pandemic blew open in state and local budgets.

One of the most effective ways for Congress to crush this virus and get our economy moving again is to help states, cities, schools and towns bring these workers back and hire more of them.

It would also be a way, during Black History Month, to remain faithful to our past and continue advancing the cause of racial justice. For generations and to this day, public service jobs have been a sturdy ladder of opportunity for African American families climbing their way to the middle class. …

It is devastating enough that African Americans are disproportionately contracting COVID-19 and dying at higher rates than the population at-large. But because of the gutting of public services, we are also being pummeled economically.

To access the full column on Medium, go here.

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