Fired Up for the Future

Five decades later, Aisha Moodie-Mills represents the torchbearers

By Will O'Bryan
Published on August 22, 2013, 5:04am | Comments

(Page 2 of 2)

MW: While we've come a long way in terms of equality since 1963, a big part of the march was geared toward economic justice. We keep hearing instead about greater economic gaps, a shrinking middle class.

MOODIE-MILLS: I've always pushed back against folks who talk about the Civil Rights Movement and talk about this march as exclusively about rights for black people. This was also about economic justice, about the fact that here we are, a community being disenfranchised, and we're also poor as a result. So, if we had some economic stability, if we could get onto the rungs of the middle class, that would improve some of our condition.

Economic justice should be a critical priority of the LGBT community, as well. By almost every metric LGBT families, families raising children – particularly those of color – are more likely to be living in poverty than anybody else in America. Same-sex families, particularly lesbians of color who are raising children in the South, have a major issue. We have allowed our movement to become so upper-middle-class, dominated by this kind of myth of gay affluence, that we miss the mark in talking about economic security and economic justice.

MW: Do you imagine this commemoration could have the impact of the original march?

MOODIE-MILLS: I've been talking about this from a strategy standpoint with some friends. That's an interesting question about what might come of this, as it relates to some actual substantive policy changes. This is very different. That March for Jobs and Freedom had some very specific policy imperatives that folks understood, really basic rights.

We're at a place now where that type of agenda for African-Americans is less clear. The disparities and the gaps are very clear, but the resolutions and specific policy prescriptions to fix those are less clear. If anything out of this march – and it's less about the march, quite frankly, and more about current affairs – is that we're seeing some real serious thinking about how we reform our criminal justice system.

Particularly around racial profiling and criminal justice issues, writ large, and gun reform, I do believe that this march and the fact that people are organizing and coming together to commemorate it is really going to create a critical mass of voices that can move those issues – which were already rolling – but I think us coming together could really move those issues.

MW: How do you and Danielle plan to mark this 50th anniversary?

MOODIE-MILLS: We're dedicating an entire [Aug. 29] Politini show to the Civil Rights Movement, the ''Civil Rights 2.0'' show. What that conversation is going to do is talk about the legacy of the march and how we continue that legacy. How is it that we really employ 21st century tools to fight the battles that we have today?

It's really important that we remember, but we use our memories to motivate us to create fresh strategies and inspire us. I am so grateful for the shoulders of the giants I'm able to stand on, and the work that they did to pave the way for us. I also take inspiration from their work, as opposed to just literal interpretation.

We have to be clear that we're living in a different time. We need fresh thinking for a fresh generation.


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