Chinese Progressive Association Joins “Fight Racism, Raise Pay” Protests, Marking Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Assassination

On April 4, 2017, the Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco, an organization that organizes the working class Chinese immigrant community in San Francisco, marched in solidarity with the “Fight Racism, Raise Pay” protests in 24 cities across the United States, alongside Fight for $15, SEIU – United Service Workers West, Black Worker Center, the Movement for Black Lives, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, San Francisco Labor Council, San Francisco Jobs with Justice, SEIU 1021, and Causa Justa.

The march today in San Francisco is part of a larger national advocacy effort called “Beyond the Moment,” a movement that urges organizers to dream and build beyond the barriers that exist between communities. The movement is inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who, on the 4th of April 50 years ago, delivered a historic speech called “Beyond Vietnam” where he called for an end to the American war in Vietnam. Just one year after that speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while he was organizing in support of Black workers on strike.

The issues that Dr. King exposed are still relevant today — recently, Republican lawmakers in more than 24 states have introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on protesters. In response, Fight for $15 in Memphis filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, charging its police department with intimidation to stifle worker protest.

Dr. King saw a common bond between the antiwar, labor, and civil rights movements. He argued that it was hypocritical for the United States to fight for “freedom” in Southeast Asia while upholding racial discrimination and labor exploitation at home. He criticized the United States’ investment in weapons rather than people. He condemned the ease with which the United States was disposing of black bodies to fight the war.

Although Dr. King was a leader of the Black Civil Rights Movement, his lessons are relevant to the Asian immigrant community and its place in this fight for freedom.

Shaw San Liu, Organizing Director of the Chinese Progressive Association, says, “CPA joins today’s national action because we must unite as people of color, immigrants and workers to fight the racist attacks on our families and our communities, and even the right to protest, by the Republican leadership. The Chinese immigrant community has experienced exclusion, racism and labor exploitation since we first arrived to this country. We stand in solidarity with black, brown and all communities to fight for the real American dream — freedom and a better future for our children.”

Founded in 1972, the Chinese Progressive Association educates, organizes and empowers the working class immigrant Chinese community in San Francisco, while building multiracial and intergenerational alliances with other Bay Area organizations.