Why We Must March

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Written by Margaret Montoya

Professor of Law and Senior Advisor to Executive Vice President for Health Sciences, University of New Mexico

We March To Call Attention to Savage Inequalities

Imagine for a moment that this is a march of Wall Street titans, other social elites and their pampered children, marching to show gratitude for having been rescued and bailed out, thanking the rest of us for shouldering the costs of their insane risk-taking.  No, that’s not a sight we are likely to see.  Instead, the marchers will be middle and lower middle class workers, civil rights activists and dreamers, those for whom the benefits of this society remain largely illusory.  They travel to D.C. to protect the dream for their children and grandchildren.

We must march on 10.2.10 to publicly disavow the sense of entitlement and the disdain for an equitable tax structure that seems to be part of the value system of those who do well in this society.  We will stand shoulder to shoulder, hombro con hombro, with other workers demanding that wealth stop being distributed upwards and that good paying jobs be created now.

We March for Progressive Policies and a More Participatory Democracy

We will march under the SALT banner.  The Society of American Law Teachers has been in the vanguard of social justice movements over the last thirty years.  We have marched before — in San Francisco, Washington, DC and New Orleans, advocating for affirmative action for students and supporting the right of law clinics to represent clients against powerful corporate interests.  As a community of progressive law teachers working for justice, diversity and academic excellence, SALT has successfully used the classroom, the courtroom and the public square to bring attention to issues of social justice.

Unlike most workers, we university professors, especially in the professional schools, are paid particularly well, we have comfortable workspaces, we control our time and how we do our work.  Many of us are public employees; our generous salaries are funded through taxes.

We must march on 10.2.10 to use our professional status, prestige and skills to advance a progressive agenda on jobs, immigration, civil and human rights, education, health equity, and foreign policy.  We seek a democracy that is more inclusive and less in the thrall of the moneyed and entrenched interests.

We March To Counter the Spreading Hate, Fear and Racial Unrest

Recently, we have seen marches that have injected images, caricatures, and slogans that draw on racist stereotypes and that seek to create racial division.  Protest marches are part of the legacy of the Black and Chicano civil rights movements.  As the men and women marched in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s through streets, over bridges and in the National Mall, their tired and calloused feet were laying down a challenge to us—they marched to bear witness to a sacred and shared commitment to equality and fairness to all and an enduring rejection of the hatred and fears that, through much of our history, have driven us apart.  The land on which they tread invites us to once again recommit and work for those same goals.

Part of the power of the march, especially for educators, is the connection between education and social action, which was so well understood by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Marchers use the body and its faculties, both physical and mental, walking, chanting, carrying signs, moving with the crowd as one in the great outdoors.  Protest marchers use this impassioned expression to petition the government, to affect public policy, and to counter other public speech and other public spectacles. Protest marches are so much fun; they are sensory and have a strong element of play.  If you haven’t marched, you should consider joining us.  Marches are memorable.

Alejandra, my younger daughter, will march next to me; two generations working and walking together for a more just and united society.

We must march to reject and renounce racial divisiveness by working to renew the commitment to equality, vindicating the victories of the masses of people who have walked before us, and rededicating ourselves to honor the hopes of those who come after us.