The Chicago Teachers Union has announced that it will send a bus to the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, a full week of events to be hosted by the four children of Martin Luther King, Jr. and several organizations including Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
The march will celebrate The Great March on Washington, which took place 50 years ago in the summer of 1963 and culminated with King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. It set to occur Aug. 21 through Aug. 28.
The Chicago Labor Freedom Riders bus trip is slated for Aug. 23 to 25.
The first day of school for students in Chicago Public Schools is Monday, August 26. However, Aug. 23 is scheduled as an official Teacher Institute Day. Any teacher taking the bus to the march will be absent that day.
The actual march will occur on August 28.
A mass email sent out to the Chicago entire Teachers Union’s mailing list urges union members to attend the march to protest foreclosures, the Second City’s recent rash of school closings and, of course, the verdict in favor of George Zimmerman, a Hispanic man who shot a black teenager during an altercation.
“The attack on the working people of Chicago and the country — school closings, high rates of unemployment, evictions and foreclosures, mass incarceration of our youth, lack of access to affordable health care and clinics — highlights the structural racism in our society,” the email beseeches. “We are marching for Trayvon, for jobs, for schools, for health care, for justice and for dignity.”
On a Facebook page called “Chicago Labor Freedom Riders Forum: Why We Ride,” a Facebook user notes that the original 1963 marchers demanded “jobs for all” and “a minimum wage worth more than $13 an hour today.”
The current national minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 per hour.
Seats on the Chicago Labor Freedom Riders bus cost $100 each. Financial aid is available for any cash-strapped teachers.
The average salary for a Chicago public school teacher is $76,000. That figure does not include a generous benefits package.