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NAACP President Encourages Participation in 10-2-10 March on Washington

Ben Wrobel | 9/30/2010, 11:10 a.m.

NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous encouraged participation in the One Nation Working Together March on Washington on 10-2-10. The march is at noon on the National Mall, and as of this interview, more than 2,500 buses from all over the country are scheduled to arrive in DC for the rally this Saturday.

Jealous explained that the NAACP decided to host an event of this type - and this magnitude - to keep the momentum rolling on gains the African American community has made since the 2008 election.

"If we want change to continue, if we want to stop those who would roll the clock back in our nation, then now is the time to step up," Jealous said. "We cannot remain quiet in the face of such clear and imminent danger to our nation's progress."

Jealous cited some of the victories that the NAACP has achieved in the past two years as it has advanced policies that would lead to equal treatment, justice, and economic opportunity for every American. But he insisted that he is not resting on his laurels just yet.

"As an organization and a nation, we have made some great strides toward prosperity and equality, but we are still fighting," he said. "We won the battle to make healthcare more accessible and more affordable. We helped get the small business tax cuts onto the President's desk. We passed a bill for our children that saved 150,000 teachers' jobs, and now we are focused on ending the Bush-era tax cuts that would add to the debt our children will have to pay."

The march on October 2 will highlight the ideals that the NAACP hopes to promote as the nation enters an election season that will determine its direction for years to come. Jealous pointed out that the march's themes - a renewed focus on jobs, justice and high quality public education - are common sense, and their universality will be reflected in the rally's expected make-up.

"We will be black, white, Asian, Latino; old and young; Christian, Muslim, Jewish and secular," he said. "But we can all come together and recognize that a solid economy is based on a strong, employed middle class, not a trickle-down system where the top 10% of Americans holds 976 times more income than the bottom 90%. We can look at the abominable immigration laws in Arizona and recognize that no human should be treated that way. And we can acknowledge that until our children are given an opportunity to get the best education available, we will never be able to compete with workers from other nations."

Jealous will speak at the rally, along with other civil rights and labor leaders, faith leaders, environmental advocates, and celebrities including Danny Glover. He tells me that he is excited to address what he hopes will be a passionate and charged crowd of tens of thousands of Americans from all over the nation. And he is sure that with a large enough turnout, there will be no way that the rally's message can be ignored heading into election season.

"We are not a loud minority looking backward," Jealous said. "We're a strong, multiracial majority looking forward. And we need to harness our majority and make our narrative of hope and unity a renewed battle cry for change."