Transportation is a 21st Century Civil Rights Issue

Rep. Elijah Cummings Launches the T4America Equity Caucus from PolicyLink on Vimeo.

On September 29, equity was flowing through the halls of Congress during a reception to celebrate the public launch of the Equity Caucus at Transportation for America.

The crowd of over 250 included an amazing array of people: Members of Congress, dozens of congressional staff, and leaders from civil rights, community development, racial justice, economic justice, faith-based, health, housing, labor, environmental justice, tribal, and transportation organizations stood shoulder to shoulder during this inspiring and unforgettable event.

At the event, the Equity Caucus called on Congress to pass a transportation bill driven by four key principles:

1. Create affordable transportation options for all people.

2. Ensure fair access to quality jobs, workforce development, and contracting opportunities in the transportation industry.

3. Promote healthy, safe, and inclusive communities.

4. Invest equitably and focus on results.

So far, more than 60 organizations have endorsed the Equity Caucus Statement of Principles.

Two members of the Equity Caucus provided personal testimonies about what’s at stake. Tom Woodruff, Executive Vice President of SEIU, talked about how the livelihoods of many of the 2.2 million SEIU members depend on equal access to good transportation.  Rev. Eric King, a faith leader with the Transportation Equity Network talked about how we must work to ensure that transportation projects build and unite communities, rather than destroying and separating them, by building “roads to nowhere”.

Representative Barbara Lee, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, praised the Equity Caucus as “speaking truth to power”. She affirmed the principles of the Equity Caucus and declared that while previous transportation authorizations had left some people behind, the next transportation authorization must be a vehicle to lift people out of poverty.

Representative Elijah Cummings, the keynote speaker, commended the creation of the Caucus. With great passion, he stated “this is bigger than us”—that mothers, schoolchildren, young adults in search for employment, and millions of others are counting on the Equity Caucus to ensure that our transportation system is reformed to ensure all people participate and prosper.

The Equity Caucus is unprecedented, in terms of its breadth and diversity, At last Wednesday’s reception, Representative Cummings affirmed this when he said, “If the Equity Caucus didn’t exist, we would have had to invent it.”

Please join us as we chart a new course for transportation in this country. Sign the Equity Pledge.

Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks at the launch of the launch of the Equity Caucus at Transportation for America, Sept. 29, 2010

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