MLK Peacewalk banner

Members of Local 400 marched down Martin Luther King Avenue during the MLK Peacewalk Monday January 17, 2011. Photo by Eric Schlein.

Despite the frigid temperatures Monday the Living Wages Healthy Communities Coalition marched down Martin Luther King Avenue in the MLK Peacewalk. The coalition held a banner with a simple yet powerful message, “Walmart: Respect DC.”

MLK band

A local marching band kept the participants' spirits positive and upbeat. Photo by Local 400 member, Kayla Mock.

Taking part in joining a movement that empowered the community. Local 400 member, Lawan Fletcher, who lives and works in DC Ward 7, felt it was important to participate and carry the banner because Walmart coming into DC would threaten her livelihood and her community.

“If Walmart comes and they don’t raise standards it’s going to affect the community by closing a lot of the Mom and Pop shops,” said Fletcher. “As well as taking a lot of business away from Safeway, where I work.”

Dr. King was a fearless advocate not only for civil rights but workers’ rights, economic justice and an end to poverty. According to the Coalition, “If we are to uphold his legacy, we must apply his wisdom and courage to the dilemma posed by Walmart’s plans to open four stores in our great city. That’s because America’s largest employer disrespect its workers by paying below-poverty wages with few benefits. It denies simple dignities–for example, a jury found that Walmart forced workers to miss rest breaks and work off-the-clock. Walmart would hurt our community, too, by forcing competitors with better jobs to close.”


Local 400 members Lawan Fletcher and Kayla Mock. Photo by Eric Schlein.

Local 400 member, Kayla Mock felt it was important to attend the peacewalk and support her brothers and sisters living and working in the District of Columbia.

“Dr. King is someone I really respect and he has a great history of nonviolent resistance with the ability to rally a lot of people together for the sake of building unity within a community,” said Mock. “It was great to come together with DC residents and show the parallels between Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stance on workers rights and how DC needs to fight against the corporate giant, Walmart, for the same quality standards because even though DC needs more jobs, they need jobs that will enhance them as a community in the future.”

Look for the Coalition’s ad in Friday’s Washington Informer!

Terrence Cummings, Waqas Ahmed and Lawan Fletcher hold the Coalition's banner while marching in the MLK Peacewalk. Photo by Local 400 member Kayla Mock.

Amy Gellatly, an organizer from UFCW International Union sporting her UFCW Gold. Photo by Local 400 member, Kayla Mock.

crowd at MLK peacewalk

About 40 people turned out in support of the Living Wages Healthy Communities Coalition to march with them behind the banner. Photo by Eric Schlein.

Photo by Eric Schlein.

The banner even made WUSA Channel 9 News. Look for it around 1:20.