Press Release | Civil Rights

Labor and Faith Forge Partnership for Social, Racial and Economic Justice

Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and the AFL-CIO marked the 57th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, where four girls were killed, with a virtual candlelight vigil and commitment to a 10-point pledge for social, racial and economic justice

At this moment in history, labor and faith are coming together, standing together and acting to stop the injustices that plague the nation—institutional racism and racist violence, the immoral response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the deepening economic crisis driven by division and greed.

“We’re here together—the Poor People’s Campaign and America’s AFL-CIO, America’s unions—because we have to be. We must be,” the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II said. “We’re here because we’re deeply concerned about the hate and division being sown in our society—not that it’s new, but that it’s being pushed and stoked.…We know the movement is more powerful than racism’s fear and division. We don’t just believe it. President Trumka and I don’t just believe it as some philosophical statement. We know it. We know it from history. We know it from Birmingham because if we tell the whole story, it was faith and labor and children and parents and white and Black and Jews and Christians in those Southern states. It was never just Black alone or white alone.”

“Some refuse to learn. Some see what’s happening and resist change or outright refuse it. Worse, some want to return to a dark past that they mythologize as ‘great.’ We cannot let them drag us back and hold us down,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The ultimate effect of the bombing was not division, but unity. It strengthened the movement. It hastened the Civil Rights Act. It bolstered the Voting Rights Act. It did the opposite of what the Klan wanted. We stand on the shoulders of Birmingham.”

Barber and Trumka called on the labor and faith communities to come together in the spirit of the four girls killed in the bombing to rededicate and recommit to rebuilding our powerful and historic coalition for social, racial and economic justice.


Contact: Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018