Demanding a ‘Living Wage’: My First Protest Against Walmart

Sherman Justice attended the Walmart rally for a living wage in Maryland on Sept. 5 and posted a blog about his experience on the Coalition on Black Civic Participation site at http://ncbcp.org/blog/. Read his story below:

This protest against Wal-Mart was my first protest ever. As I stood in solidarity against a multi-million dollar company refusing to pay a living wage, a spark of hope ignited within me. Hundreds of people of all ages, gender and color came together at a local Wal-Mart store in Landover Hills, Maryland to stand up against Wal-Mart’s unjust practices and pay.

068I was touched by the personal account that an elderly woman gave stating that her manager often gave her compliments on her work, and yet one day without notice she was called to the back and fired without explanation. She stated that when she asked why she was let go she was simply told that they didn’t owe her any explanation. I could not help but think about my grandma being in this same predicament and how her termination impacted her family. This protest was a huge eye opener for me, I admittedly have shopped at Wal-Mart in the past because of their low prices but I will no longer shop there because it’s bigger than saving a few dollars. I can’t support a company that chooses to not fairly pay their workers enough to take care of themselves let alone a family.

When I first arrived to the protest I noticed that people were standing in a group with posters, some of which read “Wal-Mart always discriminates”. As different buses arrived new people came with more posters, and t-shirts that they passed out amongst the crowd. A band even rallied us up and played different songs. The rally began in a prayer delivered by a Hispanic preacher who was translated by another community activist. Although I couldn’t comprehend anything he was saying, I felt his spirit, passion and conviction that he spoke with. “All people are equal and regardless of our race we are all God’s creatures,” he said as he closed his remarks.

As the rally ended, the crowd now around 200 people began to march onto Route 450 during rush hour chanting ‘they say roll back, we say fight back’. As we marched in protest some people were arrested after refusing to move from blocking traffic. As a novice protester, I couldn’t help but be excited to see people truly committed to ending a wrongdoing. My main takeaway was that you must continue to fight for what’s right despite any other factors. I will continue to pray that Wal-Mart comes to some type of agreement where everyone can win.