News release from the Fort Wayne/Allen County NAACP #3049:
Local NAACP joins National “We are one” campaign to fight ongoing attacks on Labor & Civil Rights in America
Fort Wayne NAACP also honors Jonathan C. Ray and Jamie L. Garwood of the Fort Wayne Urban League for their efforts to support civil rights
(April 4, 2011) – Today, the Fort Wayne/Allen County Branch of NAACP joinsÂ people throughout Indiana and across America to honor the Â legacy of Dr. Martin LutherÂ King, Jr. On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated while working in support ofÂ sanitation workers demanding collective bargaining rights in Memphis. To commemorateÂ Dr. King and encourage grassroots action to defend labor rights and civil rights, theÂ national NAACP’s We Are One campaign includes community events nationwide today.
Dr. King, along with other civil rights leaders, including A. Philip Randolph, WEBÂ DuBois and Medgar Evers among others, understood the strong correlation betweenÂ labor rights and civil rights. They considered the right of workers to organize to be asÂ fundamental as the right of African Americans to vote, and regarded the labor movementÂ as a strong ally in the struggle for civil rights.
“Our needs are identical with labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions,Â livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in whichÂ families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community,” Dr.Â King said. “The duality of interests of labor and Negroes makes any crisis whichÂ lacerates you a crisis from which we bleed.”
43 year after Dr. King’s death, poor and middle class working families are again underÂ attack as politicians and legislators in Indiana and across the nation work to destroy laborÂ rights. With grassroots events across America, the We Are One campaign reminds peopleÂ of the indivisible link between labor rights and civil rights, and the urgent need to defendÂ both for the benefit of individuals and families in Â America.
“We are facing unprecedented, coordinated attacks on our civil rights across the country,”Â said Paulette Nellems, President of the Fort Wayne/Allen County Branch of NAACP.Â “We must begin to unite as one to find solutions to move the dream of Dr. Martin LutherÂ King, Jr. forward.”
Selecting from the many people working each day to find solutions to challenges in ourÂ community, the local NAACP chose to recognize the work of two individuals committedÂ to addressing the issues of social, educational, economic and political change: JonathanÂ C. Ray and Jamie L. Garwood of the Fort Wayne Urban League.
Jonathan C. Ray, MSW – For the past five years, Fort Wayne Urban League PresidentÂ and CEO Jonathan C. Ray has worked to strengthen the organization’s services andÂ advocacy for low income and minority residents. Ray has modernized the agency toÂ improve efficiency in order to better serve the public. Under his leadership, the FortÂ Wayne Urban League’s education, employment and housing programs have improvedÂ outcomes for individuals, youth and families. Ray is also an outgoing civic leader onÂ issues related to education, housing, poverty, violence and crime.
“Jon is willing to take a stand on issues that others may avoid,” Nellems added. “HeÂ listens to all sides but remains true to his strong, core values. Jon is a genuine consensusÂ builder and community builder.”
“I’m grateful to be recognized by the NAACP on this historic day,” Ray said. “OurÂ community has challenging issues to address and difficult conversations to hold but muchÂ to gain if we work together to expand opportunity for all.”
Jamie L. Garwood, MPA – Currently serving as Director of Development for the FortÂ Wayne Urban League, Jamie Garwood has nearly 15 years of experience working on andÂ teaching about issues of educational and economic inequality. Prior to her position at theÂ Urban League, Garwood developed “Real Men Read,” a community campaign to closeÂ the third-grade reading gap by recruiting a diverse group of men into elementaryÂ classrooms for rewarding reading experiences with students. Garwood has also taughtÂ courses in child development, sociology and multicultural education.
“We must rid our community of the education gaps and low expectations that we have forÂ many children of color,” Garwood said. “If we don’t, we will deny them and ourselves a Â prosperous life and real freedom.”
“Last year, the local NAACP awarded Jamie our Elizabeth Dobyness Award – one of ourÂ highest awards for leaders fighting for racial and economic equality,” Nellems said.Â “We’re proud to recognize her again for her continued passion and willingness toÂ challenge the status quo for what she believes is morally right.”
On behalf of the Fort Wayne/Allen County NAACP, Branch President Nellems presentedÂ Ray and Garwood with NAACP/We Are One Certificates of Recognition.