City leaders, workers rally against racial disparities at MLK Day march

San Francisco city leaders, including Mayor London Breed and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, joined hundreds of people on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as they marched through the city to honor his legacy.

The march began at the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets following the arrival of the Caltrain Norcal MLK Celebration Train from San Jose, and ended with a rally at Yerba Buena Gardens.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a blessing to the world,” Pelosi said. “This powerful march and beautiful ceremony bear testament to the truth that Dr. King espoused: that our diversity is our strength.

“We must make sure that that arc of justice that he talked about bends more rapidly than some others may expect,” she said.

“We know that there are so many challenges that exist in our country that threaten those things like unity, equity and all those things that we value dear,” Breed said.

“I know that we’re not going to give up until everyone has equal access to health care; until our immigrant communities feels like they’re safe and they’re welcome; until we feel like we have equal rights for city employees,” Breed said, the last part echoing the sentiments of many black city employees who rallied this morning.

According to the Service Employees International Union 1021, the employees marched Monday morning not only to commemorate King’s legacy, but to also demand that systemic racism within city and county departments stop.

“If we want to be an example to the rest of the county as a city of inclusiveness and tolerance, we must first look within and see how our own city departments are contributing to the displacement of African Americans in our city and our workforce,” union member and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency employee Nicole Christian said in a statement.

In November, several African American city employees spoke out during a hearing at a Board of Supervisors meeting about instances of discrimination such as being retaliated against, terminated or passed up for promotions.

Picture 1 of 26

G.L. Hodge with the San Francisco Interfaith Council carries a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he leads San Francisco Mayor London Breed, other elected officials and thousands of community members in the march to honor King's legacy on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

-Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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