BLACK VOICES

Citizens Stand For Economic Equality With #BlackWorkMatters And The #FightFor15

04/15/2015 02:48 pm ET | Updated Apr 15, 2015

#BlackLivesMatters is a hashtag that has taken the Internet by storm and symbolizes a movement around the validation and protection of black lives around the globe. However, while the campaign includes the fight against many issues plaguing the African American community, one particular civil rights focus took the main stage on Wednesday: #BlackWorkMatters. In a push for racial justice, protesters took to the streets in cities across the country -- from New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Sacramento and New Orleans -- to demand a $15 per hour minimum wage and the creation of a union for fast food workers.

Black Youth 100, a non-profit organization focused on racial, social and economic freedom, released a video Monday explaining The Black Work Matters campaign -- also known as the Fight For $15 -- which calls attention to the disproportionate number of young black people who work in low wage jobs and the experiences they have in these positions.

“It’s a fight for the dignity of workers,” says Charlene A. Carruthers in the video, the National Director BYP100. “It’s a fight for workers to be able to collectively bargain. It’s a fight for workers to actually be in safe environments where their issues and their grievances can be heard.”

The mission of the campaign, which was also a part of Wednesday's protests, is to empower low wage workers to negotiate fair terms for their employment. Low pay and unsafe work environments plague jobs for parents and families that work in fast food and other low wage industries, according to BYP100 Chicago Chapter co-chair Janae Bonsu. “It’s inhumane,” she says.

“Before the fight 15 I didn’t think I had the right to stand up to my employer,” said Jessica Davis, a fast food worker and single mother of two. “I thought… the pay and the disrespect was something I deserved.”

Choosing between going to work or taking her children to the doctor is a decision Davis doesn't want to have to make based on money.

“A union would have someone fighting for us,” Davis explains. “Because right now we’re the only people fighting for ourselves. The fight for $15 gave workers like myself, knowledge, power...It really just gave us a voice, low wage workers a voice.”

Wednesday's protesters hope to achieve economic justice not just for the lives of low wage workers and their families, but the health of the entire American economy.

Take a look at the awesome turnout the Black Work Matters and the Fight For $15 rallies made Wednesday in the Tweets, Instagram posts and photos below.

NYC CLC staff marshals preparing to lead marchers down Flatbush Ave. during this morning's #FightFor15 protest in Downtown #Brooklyn.

A photo posted by NYC Central Labor Council (@centrallabornyc) on

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