The coalition that put together last Saturday's commemorative March on Washington II is establishing a national headquarters here to lobby for passage of specific bills that are in keeping with the march's "Jobs, Peace and Freedom" theme, D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy said yesterday.
Fauntroy, the march's national director, said the "New Coalition of Conscience" will be working to win approval in Congress of 14 measures, including a bill to make the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday and legislation to create about 1 million jobs for the long-term unemployed.
Just as organizers of the 1963 march stayed together to win approval of civil rights and voting rights legislation, the 1983 coalition will remain intact to push its own agenda of issues, Fauntroy said at a post-march news conference.
"More than 300,000 marching feet revived Dr. King's dream of jobs, peace and freedom for all Americans," said Fauntroy. "Now the millions of Americans represented by those marchers must let their political leaders know that the march was only the first step in making the dream a reality."
The "second phase," he said, "will come in the statehouses, halls of Congress and election booths next November."
More than 715 organizations in 352 cities are supporting the coalition's legislative package, according to Fauntroy, who said the group will continue to operate out of the National Education Association office it occupied during preparations for the march. Donna Brazile, the 23-year-old student who was march coordinator, has been named staff director.
Fauntroy said the first legislative tests for the new coalition will come next month, when Congress returns to town to consider the King holiday and jobs bills.
The King bill already has passed the House, and Fauntroy said he expects the Senate to approve the measure. The jobs bill has attracted support from 500 new organizations as a result of the march, Rep. Augustus Hawkins (D-Calif.), its chief sponsor, said yesterday.
Judy Goldsmith, president of the National Organization for Women and a cochairwoman of the march, said the forging of the coalition was as historic as the march itself, and she predicted the group will stay together to work for political and social change.
March organizers said yesterday they have paid all of the bills for the event, which they said cost about $535,000, including the cost of services donated by coalition members. Fauntroy said he expected those who contributed to the march to contribute to the coalition's national office, which he estimated will need about $500,000 annually to operate.