The Promises of the March on Washington, Two Generations Later | #JobsDay August 2023

by | Aug 4, 2023 | Fair Pay

Today’s jobs report comes on the heels of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day and a few weeks before the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. And while the July data show slight improvements for Black women, whose unemployment rate ticked down this month, it’s essential to consider these data in a broader context to understand how our public policies can better support Black women. Two National Partnership for Women & Families leaders have recently provided critical insight into the economic barriers faced by Black women, as well as the solutions they need.

First, National Partnership President Jocelyn Frye released a report that rejected the status quo. She cautioned that relying on “business-as-usual, pre-pandemic measures to assess the scope of the economic recovery for Black women without taking a closer look at the stubbornly persistent disparities and inequities that Black women still endure.” Her research shows that although Black women have among the highest labor force participation of any group of women, they also face high rates of unemployment. In fact, their unemployment rate has been higher than white women’s for five decades.

Moreover, her report shows that even when Black women are working, discrimination, stereotypes and biases mean they are overrepresented in low-wage jobs that lack benefits – jobs that are lower quality precisely because society undervalues Black women’s work. And it costs them millions.

Frye’s research makes clear that despite progress led by Black women in the two generations since the March on Washington, there is still much more work to do to dismantle the white supremacy and anti-Blackness Black women face.

But Frye’s work, along with that of the National Partnership’s Amaya Smith, offer a road map for what can be done. As Smith writes, it’s essential to be “an ally for Black women and their economic futures.” For both Frye and Smith, building an economy that works for Black women entails supporting equal pay for equal work, providing paid time off, investing in affordable child care, supporting unions, ensuring good infrastructure jobs go to Black women, raising wages, eliminating discrimination and more. As we commemorate the achievements of the Civil Rights movement, it’s critical to recognize how much work remains to fully recognize its promise.

Read our full analysis of today’s Jobs Report on Twitter.

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