Monnie Callan has worn many hats in her 87 years. A 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East retiree, the jobs she has held include a garment worker, a secretary-Spanish translator, a social worker, a social researcher and a community organizer and a hospital social worker. This month, she will wear her activist hat and travel to Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Being an activist is just who she is. Her parents named one of their daughters after a famous suffragette and another daughter for two women authors who wrote about women's rights and human rights and instilled in her a sense of fairness and equality.
As an adult, Monnie worked to ensure equal justice. As newlyweds in the 1950s, she and her husband worked with a civil liberty group to end housing discrimination in New York.
When young African-American families were denied housing, Monnie and her husband posed as prospective renters to see if an apartment was really unavailable or if the landlord was purposely denying families housing on the basis of their race.
This dedication led the 37-year-old mother of two to come with her husband and children to Washington, D.C. in 1963 to attend the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Her activism continued afterward.
Since the March, she's been arrested during civil disobedience rallies, sat down in the middle of the street during a strike to block supply trucks, worked as a social worker in New York City and participated in peaceful protests against police brutality and other social justice issues.
"We live in a country where one in five children are living below the poverty line, and yet Congress is planning to make cuts to food stamps," she said.
Monnie is coming to Washington, D.C. again because the dream is not yet realized. This anniversary is an opportunity to commemorate and recommit to a just society.
"It is the time to develop a full-blown movement in this country that is going to do something about our unfair economy, about racism; we cannot keep going backward," she said.
For more info on March on Washington anniversary events, click here: http://www.seiu.org/marchon2013/