Redmond: Together We Can Forge a New History

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond's remarks as prepared for the concluding event of the Selma to Montgomery Jubilee and March:

Hello everyone. I’m Fred Redmond, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. We are a federation of 57 labor unions and we represent 12.5 million working people across all sectors of the economy.

Hank [Sanders], thank you again for being such a powerful steward of this march and the civil rights movement. 

To my brother Doug [Moore], I’m so grateful to be here with you today representing the labor movement.  

Special thanks to Janai Nelson and the entire NAACP LDF team for inviting me to speak. 

At the Legacy Museum, just down the street from here, these lines from a Maya Angelou poem are inscribed:

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived. 
But if faced with courage, need not be lived again.

Today we celebrate our history. How we came together to fight for voting rights…when Jim Crow was in full swing.

How all of us together forced America to evaluate whether we were truly living up to our own democratic ideals. 

And how our efforts led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

Thank God for that. 

But today we also recognize the wrenching pain of unfinished business.

Jim Crow is alive and well here in the South. More than a half century after Dr. King gave his life for justice. 

Our votes have been suppressed through tactics that have their roots in poll taxes and literacy tests.

In fact, voters in 13 states have more restrictive laws than they did in 1965.

That is shameful. 

So this week we make a commitment to ourselves and to each other…that we will not allow history to repeat itself.

That we will not repeat its wrenching pain. 

Together, we will find the courage to face down these threats to our rights.

And beat them, once and for all.

Together we can forge a new history.

We are going to pass the Freedom the Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

And we will restore our rights and save our democracy for generations to come.

Thank you.