Civil Rights Leaders, Past and Present, Agree: Americans Deserve Better Wages

There's no question that a raise in the federal minimum wage is long overdue.

Most Americans agree, and it's not difficult to understand why. The cost of living in this country has risen, but wages have stagnated or their jobs have been eliminated altogether. African Americans, Latinos, and women lag behind in almost every indicator of economic well-being.

That's why a minimum wage hike has been and continues to be a defining issue for civil and human rights advocates. The 1963 March on Washington called for an end to segregation in education and housing, but also "an increase in the national minimum wage so that men may live in dignity."

Together with our sister organization, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, we are partnering with the National Urban League, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the YWCA to educate our communities about what's at stake for them in this debate. The fact sheets linked below highlight the impact raising the wage would have on our communities. For example:

  • Latinos represent only 15 percent of the workforce, yet comprise 25 percent of those that would benefit from a higher minimum wage.
  • African Americans make up only 11 percent of the workforce, but are 14 percent of those that would benefit from a higher minimum wage.
  • An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 would either directly or indirectly raise the wages of more than 2.4 million African-American female workers and 3.3 million Latina workers.
  • Transgender people are nearly four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 per year as the population as a whole (15 percent vs. 4 percent), making a higher minimum wage particularly critical for them.

This week, the Senate can help the rest of the nation catch up with the American people and improve the lives of millions of workers by raising the minimum wage to $10.10. The facts are clear. Raising the wage is a popular idea with bipartisan support that would help to lift working families out of poverty and expand the economy for everyone.

Civil rights leaders, past and present, agree: for American workers, a hike in the minimum wage is critical to protecting -- and enhancing -- the dignity of their lives.

Leaders Call For Higher Wages