Houstonians say fund human needs, not war

HOUSTON — About 300 activists for justice gathered at City Hall in downtown Houston on March 24 to demand full funding for human needs programs and an end to the war in Iraq.

During a march through downtown Houston, the diverse group of participants chanted, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Right now!”

The Coalition of Working People and the Poor called the action. It was supported by a broad coalition of labor, civil rights, religious and peace organizations, including the NAACP, AFL-CIO, Justice for Janitors, Children’s Defense Fund and Houston Peace and Justice Center. The coalition is led by Bishop James Dixon II of the Community of Faith Church.

Herb Rothschild of the Houston Peace and Justice Center told the crowd, “We need a minimum wage raise so working people can support their families.” He also called for health care and quality education for children.

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) told the audience that we need a policy to bring the troops home safely from Iraq. He said he and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, both of Houston, voted to bring the troops home safely in the recent bill that passed in the House of Representatives.

Green said, “We must not allow the well-off, the well-heeled and the well-to-do to fare well at the expense of the least and the last and the lost.” He called for a raise in the minimum wage so that people can say, “farewell to welfare!”

Bishop James Dixon II acknowledged the “rainbow” nature of the coalition. He quoted John Edgar Wideman in his introduction to the book “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois: “America’s pretensions to greatness will remain just pretensions until the benefits of freedom, democracy and opportunity are enjoyed by all of our citizens.”

Dixon said, “We are not going to be quiet until freedom, democracy and opportunity are accessible on an equal basis to all of America’s citizens.”

phill2 @ houston.rr.com