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African-American Labor Leaders Bear Witness To The Crisis In Alabama’s Working Communities In The Aftermath Of H.B. 56

Published Friday, November 18, 2011 11:00 am
by National AFL-CIO News

(BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA) – Earlier this week, a delegation of prominent African-American Labor Leaders met with Birmingham, Alabama community leaders, families, business owners and Workers on a fact-finding trip to shed light on the consequences of H.B. 56 - a recently-enacted law that has had wide-reaching implications for Alabama's Latino Workers and their families.

Members of the National AFL-CIO-sponsored delegation spent a day immersed in the community with people affected by H.B. 56.  Delegates met with the Alabama Justice Immigration Coalition to learn about their modern-day Civil Rights Campaign to overturn the law.  DREAM Act Student Activists, meanwhile, led the group on a tour of an Immigrant Community.  A local business owner hosted the delegation for a discussion on how the local economy has suffered with the exodus of Immigrant Workers from the area.  The day concluded with a community roundtable at Beloved Community United Church of Christ followed by dinner at the Civil Rights Institute with Alabama State Senator Henry Sanders.

"We cannot be quiet on this gross violation of an entire population's civil rights," Coalition of Black Trade Unionists President William Lucy said. "Just as we saw years ago in the days of Jim Crow, hard-working people, families - and even children - are being unjustly targeted and criminalized in their own communities.  The fight for Civil Rights did not end with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  It continues whenever and wherever someone is denied their equal rights."

Said the Reverend Angie Wright of the Greater Birmingham Ministries: "This law affects every community in Alabama, not just Immigrant Communities.   It damages our schools.  It diverts law enforcement's attention from real crime in every community.  Public resources needed for schools, Health Care and transportation are being drained to defend and implement a morally and fiscally unconscionable law.  Our State is unearthing the pain and shame of our past, once again refusing to honor the humanity of people who simply want to live with dignity, hope for their children, and the necessities of life.  It hurts every single person who lives in Alabama, whether they realize it yet or not."

Added Student Organizer Victor Palafox: "Our schools, our churches, our neighborhoods have not been the same since H.B 56 passed.  Many people are afraid and have even left the life they built here.  But seeing that there are people from all over the country, from other races and other life experiences who will stand together with us against this unjust law makes me feel like we have a chance to restore our community and make it stronger." 

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