Thousands of workers across the country walked off the job on Monday to demand racial and economic justice for workers. In Harrisonburg, more than 200 people rallied at Court Square to protest structural racism in the Shenandoah Valley. WMRA’s Calvin Pynn reports.
The rally began as the crowd took a knee in silence for eight minutes and 43 seconds in honor of George Floyd, and in solidarity with workers striking earlier that day. AJ Young, of the Poor People’s campaign, was the first of several speakers.
A.J. YOUNG: The Poor People’s Campaign has aligned itself with poultry workers, with fast food workers, with CNAS, the cashiers, and all those who have had to keep working in the midst of a pandemic.
The Strike for Black Lives was inspired by the protests following police killings of several Black people in 2020, and brought attention to the lethal threat that essential workers face during the pandemic. Harrisonburg chef Patrick Fritz highlighted that inequality in the food industry.
PATRICK FRITZ: I wanted a job that I was good at, that I knew how to do, that would put me around of my brothers and sisters. But one of the things I realized quickly is that the industry thrives on
exploiting black and brown bodies.
Other speakers told stories of injustice in the Valley’s poultry plants and demands for racial accountability in the local schools, along with performances from local rappers Maleke Jones…
(Maleke Jones ...)
and Raiquan Thomas.
(Raiquan Thomas ...)