By Black Radio Network Staff
CHICAGO —Officials of the National Education Association Friday gathered together legislators, labor officials and ethnic minority leaders for a discussion on collaborating to advocate for working families and public school students in communities of color.
Black Radio Network spoke with the association's president Dennis Van Roekel about what the panel aimed to achieve by the discussion:
The 24-hour cable news obsession helps draw the battle lines—labor unions versus government and politicians versus working families. America's students and middle class families are called to make sacrifices while corporations and the wealthy prosper.
The right to join and organize unions and bargain for better wages, benefits, and conditions is rooted in the spirit of the civil rights movement; yet, America's workers are increasingly under attack.
More than four decades after visiting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated and the same rights for which the Memphis sanitation workers fought are again under attack in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states across this country.
The session, Legislators, Labor & Leaders: Stopping the Rhetoric and Working, was part of the National Education Association's Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, through July 5, in Chicago.
The Minority Community Outreach forum is one of several sessions included in NEA's first annual Day of Learning, which will feature 19 workshops to help address challenges in today's education workplace.
Joining Van Roekel were Gregory A. Cendana, executive director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Illinois Rep.Danny Davis, Ed Gordon, BET personality and award-winning journalist, Lee Saunders, secretary-treasurer, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Al Sharpton, founder, National Action Network, Lillian Sparks, commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director, Voto Latino.