Yesterday, as people around the world were honoring the legacy of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 49th anniversary of his death, I could not help but reflect on how historically disadvantaged communities — especially our communities of color — are still trying to overcome the same injustices that Dr. King fought against nearly half a century ago.
During the last years of his life, Dr. King launched the “Poor People’s Campaign,” a new organized effort which was motivated by a desire for better wages, economic justice and the idea that all people, regardless of race, should have what they need to live.
As today’s leaders continue to fight for a livable minimum wage, I am proud that East Orange was able to support the negotiation of $15 an hour for all of our municipal employees in 2016. In doing so, we set a precedent by becoming the first municipality in the state to increase wages through the collective bargaining process.
Working closely with the East Orange City Council and community partners, we were also among the first in the state and the nation to pass an earned paid sick leave ordinance to keep families healthy and improve the overall quality of life for many East Orange residents.
From holding banks accountable for predatory lending practices and the abandonment of homes that have deteriorated our neighborhoods, East Orange has stood in solidarity in its fight for the people who live and work here.
With the federal government now threatening to remove critical funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)Program, we must remain united as one. May the life and legacy of Dr. King continue to inspire us to stay strong and committed to the fight for equality and justice for everyone.