Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and adjust to imbalances.
Sixty years ago, Black organizers from CORE, The Committee on Racial Equity, led a protest at Jefferson Bank demanding that Jefferson Bank hire four black tellers.
They used some of the similar tactics we still use today. Blocking the entry to the bank, sitting in the lobby, and singing and chanting to slow down business. During many Stand Up KC, Show-Me $15 & Fight for $15 actions. We blocked the driveway at lunchtime, ran penny actions in the lobby, and chanted to slow down business so the corporations heard our demands.
People, including two Workers’ Rights Board members, Percy Green, and the Honorable Bill Clay, spent time in jail with higher bonds as a punishment for demanding equity. Makes me think of the many Clergy who got arrested while fighting for equity when the MO legislature decided not to expand Medicaid – which continued the cruel tradition of blocking Missourians from the healthcare we all deserve.
Until March of ’64, the bank hired four Black tellers. Seven months of protest, arrest, and solidarity to achieve the equity CORE demanded.
It’s been 60 years, and Black workers, LGTBQ workers, immigrants, nonunion, poor rural communities, and unionized folks are still fighting for equity. In St. Louis, the spirit of the Jefferson Bank protests live on through Starbucks organizing, the Fight for $15, Amazon organizing through the Missouri Workers Center, and many more worker-led fights.
At JWJ, we like to say:
I will BE THERE to fight for an economy, a democracy, and a Missouri that works for all of us, no matter the color of our skin, our zip code, or what’s in our wallets.
Missouri Jobs with Justice