Congressman John Lewis showed his support last night for fast-food workers picketing for the right to unionize and receive a minimum wage of $15 per hour.
The longtime civil rights activist encouraged more than 100 fast-food employees to continue their fight for livable wages outside of the McDonald's located near Marietta and Broad streets. On Wednesday, Lewis helped celebrate the March on Washington's 50th anniversary in the nation's capital. One day later, he was in Atlanta's streets shaking hands, standing alongside protesters, and offering words of encouragement. (Joeff Davis captured the speech in the video posted above).
"You must remember, 50 years ago yesterday, when I was 23 years old, had all my hair, and was a few pounds lighter, we marched for jobs and freedom," Lewis said. "We're still marching for jobs. We need more than a minimum wage, we need a livable wage. I don't understand how people survive when they are being paid starvation wages. In a country like ours, we could do much better."
The protest in Downtown was one of three Atlanta protests that took place yesterday as part of nationwide series of demonstration calling for better wages for industry employees.
"I saw one sign saying 'Wages: stop spending hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of dollars on war,'" Lewis said. "Spend some of our resources to pay people a decent wage. When we marched on Washington 50 years ago, I said that we don't have anything to be proud of for hundreds and thousands of our brothers and sisters cannot be here for they're receiving starvation wages. The same thing is true 50 years later.
Lewis will give the Decatur Book Festival's keynote speech tonight at Emory University's Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.
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I hope whoever replaces him has as good a mustache as his.