The January 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Religious Witness with Homeless People

Memorial for Homeless Deaths in East Bay

Remember Rosa Parks: Justice in Public Transit

Justice is Pushed to Back of Bus

Big Brother Watches the Poor

Homeless Woman Works to Survive

Let Justice Roll: Raise the Miserly Minimum Wage

Richmond Courts Unfair to Poor

War Profiteer Parties Hearty

Poets Against the War Machine

Poems for the Poorman

Poems in Spirit of St. Francis

Songs of Our Shared Humanity

Psychotic Breaks

How to Deal with Pain and Fear


November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005





Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters: Raise the Minimum Wage

by Janis Shields, AFSC

Millions of workers try to survive on the minimum wage. Art by Christa Occhiogrosso

Today's minimum wage is not a fair wage -- economically or ethically. The miserly minimum wage confines workers in poverty.

PHILADELPHIA-The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization and co-recipient of the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize, has co-produced a new report calling for a just minimum wage that will keep workers out of poverty and strengthen our nation's businesses, communities and economy.

A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future, co-authored by Holly Sklar and the Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, points out that, adjusting for inflation, today's $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage is nearly $4 an hour less than it was in 1968 -- the year the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The miserly minimum wage has been taking us backwards, not forwards.

Most people remember the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom as the occasion where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" address. A key demand of the march was "a national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living." The 1963 minimum wage is worth more than $8 in today's dollars.

Today's minimum wage is not a fair wage -- economically or ethically. It is not good for workers, business or our nation's future.

"When the minimum wage is a poverty wage, as it is today, it reinforces injustice," said Kitty Hsu Dana, AFSC associate general secretary for advancement. "We are called to take action in a moral cause to raise the minimum wage and turn our nation from the dead-end low road of deepening poverty and inequality to the high road of rising opportunity and enduring progress."

King wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, first published by the AFSC and distributed in advance of the historic March on Washington: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Taking inspiration from these words and King's work for civil rights and economic justice, AFSC has joined with more than 50 other faith- and community-based organizations in The Let Justice Roll Coalition, which is working to raise the federal minimum wage as well as for higher minimum wages in selected states.

"Raising the minimum wage to a living wage is essential for the common good of our families, communities and nation," said Dana. "Quaker faith calls on us to eliminate causes of suffering such as violence and poverty. All things can be transformed through the power of people working together for the common good."

You can order this minimum wage report for $5 by calling toll-free 1-800-889-5733 or order by e-mail: See the minimum wage report online at

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