March for California’s Future Focuses on State Park Closures; Rally Held at Historic Civil Rights Site in Central Valley

Participants in a 48-day, 260-mile trek from Bakersfield to Sacramento held a rally at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park yesterday as part of the “March for California’s Future.” A diverse group of Californians, including a San Diego community college professor, a Los Angeles probation officer, a Watsonville teacher, a retired Berkeley adult educator, a Marina del Rey substitute teacher, and a retired Los Angeles teacher are marching the entire 260-mile route. The marchers and their supporters rallied at Allensworth to highlight how budget cuts have forced the closure of state parks throughout California. The marchers called for the governor and legislature to restore quality public education and public services for every Californian, a government and economy that works for us all, and a fair tax system to fund California’s future. Recent state budget cuts have curtailed services and hours of operation at Allensworth Park, site of the first town in California founded, financed and administered by African-Americans in 1908. “As we march into a promising page in California’s struggle for justice and community, it’s fitting that we turn back and look at history for just a moment to a painful page. Still we rise,” said Reverend Dr. Lewis E. Logan II, senior pastor of Los Angeles’ Emmanuelle African Methodist Church.

“We are not only losing quality public education and public services because of budget cuts; we are also losing a piece of our history,” said Doug Moore, executive director of UDW Homecare Providers Union and a speaker at the rally. “Think about what it must have been like to start your own town free of oppression and discrimination during those days. Think about the boldness of those early pioneers who fought for dignity and economic justice. By keeping people from visiting this and our other state parks, we are denying them the opportunity to share in these historic experiences.”

Marchers reached Allensworth Park Wednesday afternoon after walking almost 13 miles from Delano, the starting point of Cesar Chavez’s historic 1966 march to Sacramento. They have covered more than 60 miles since the march began on March 5th in
Bakersfield.

Sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and a coalition of labor, education, civil rights and faith-based organizations, including the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the march is the beginning of a campaign to restore quality public education and public services, a government and an economy that works for all Californians, and a fair and stable tax system to fund the future.

“The state budget is a moral document,” said Rev. Eric Lee, President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles. “It is designed to set the tone and direction for social policy in the Golden State through the spending decisions that are given priority each year.

“The majority of California voters support public services and want programs like education, environmental protections, child care, health care, job training, mental health services, and home care services, adequately funded.” Rev. Lee said. “The governor and legislature have not listened to the will of the people. This march is designed to make them listen.”

Hundreds of firefighters, nurses, in-home care workers, students, and police officers will join the march as it winds through the heart of the Central Valley.

For more information, please visit www.fight4cafuture.com.

The Court of Public Opinion