Youth and students demand:
Freeze Tuition Now!
Cancel all Student Loan Debt!
A Jobs Program with a Living Wage, Not Jails and Prisons!
Collective Bargaining for Public Sector Workers!
Divest from Israel!
This April 3rd will mark the 41st year since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tenn., to striking sanitation workers who were working for extremely meager wages and being severely repressed. Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 fighting for justice.
To commemorate these days, students and workers across North Carolina will meet in Raleigh on April 3 to demand that people’s needs be met and that this severe economic crisis does not come tumbling down on our backs.
Trillions of dollars of bailout money have been handed out or promised to the super rich, the bankers on Wall Street, and the auto industry. Hundreds of billions more have been spent to fund the devastating siege of Palestine, continuing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and on propping up corrupt regimes around the world for U.S. interests.
Meanwhile, millions of people have lost their jobs and their homes, and the increasing cost of education makes going to college impossible for many students without taking on thousands of dollars of debt.
In NC, the unemployment rate shot up to 8.7%, higher than the national average. It is estimated that the actual percentage of out of work people in this state is somewhere close to 15%. For youth ages 16 to 19, the national unemployment rate is more than 20 percent, more than 30 percent for Black youth and 18 percent for white youth. For Black men over the age of 20 the unemployment rate is more than 20 percent and is double-digit numbers for Latin@s and indigenous people.
Already, workers face expanding workloads, reduced hours, cuts in social services, furloughs and layoffs. At the same time tuition rises, youth and students can’t afford to go to college, and those who do are saddled with thousands of dollars of debt.
We face reductions in funding for a strapped education system – and in the UNC system thousands of classes could be cut and class sizes increased. As the crisis deepens, we can only expect these cutbacks to increase.
In 2004 the National Center for Education Statistics reported that by the time they graduate, more than 66 percent of college and university students will have student debt. NCES stated that most graduate with at least $15,000 in student loans and that many wind up with more than $30,000 in student debt.
We believe that young people should be bailed out of the debt incurred for seeking higher education, not the banks and CEOs! Education is a right and should be guaranteed, without having to take out exorbitant loans. All student debt, loans, private or public and credit card debt used to pay for books or meals should be cancelled.
Through all the cutbacks that the state is proposing in order to “fix” the economic crisis, one thing remains clear: that these cuts fall down hardest on workers and youth.
On April 3, as we march on the banks and the legislature in Raleigh, we’ll be standing in solidarity with the Bail Out the People Movement and thousands of young people and workers from across the country who will be marching on Wall Street for jobs.
In the face of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, we must join together to build a powerful movement to fightback against layoffs and cutbacks in social services and education. In the words of Dr. King, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” We must also continue to build the People’s Assemblies that are taking place in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Rocky Mount that bring students, workers, and community members together to strategize about how we can build united actions against this crisis.
The time for unity and action is now. Join us on April 3 in Raleigh!
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Campuses around the state are beginning to organize teach-ins, speak outs and mass meetings to build for this march. To endorse this campaign or to find out more please contact us at 919-604-8167 or at Raleigh@FISTyouth.org