As we witness the protests over racial injustice spurred by the horrific death of George Floyd and face the coronavirus pandemic, we believe our nation desperately needs healing. As AARP members, many of us are old enough to remember the struggle to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the devastating riots of 1968, the likes of which we had hoped we would never see again.
PHOTO BY TIMOTHY GREENFIELD-SANDERS
Jo Ann Jenkins
AARP has stood against discrimination in all its forms since our founding over 60 years ago. We have championed civil rights laws, hate crimes statutes, and bans on predatory and abusive practices against consumers, especially those that have a disparate impact on certain groups.
Today, we continue to be guided by the promise that our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, made over 60 years ago: “What we do, we do for all.”
Her promise lives on when AARP uses its influence in Washington, state capitals and city halls across the country to fight to improve people’s lives and through the programs and services we deliver. Through our advocacy, programs and services we fight against discrimination, advocate for health care and financial security, and work to improve the lives of all people, especially those most vulnerable. As we consider this moment in time, it’s clear this work is more important than ever.
Today, we have deep divisions within our country. We are witnessing increasing incidents of racial violence. Blacks and Latinos are dying at higher rates due to COVID-19. These disparities are not random, but instead are the result of inequality due to a lack of social, economic and political opportunities. AARP has always fought to build a more equitable society and to advocate for programs that empower all people to live and age with dignity and purpose because we know that discrimination of any kind corrodes our communities and our society from the inside out, and it frays our democracy.
The late congresswoman Barbara Jordan once said, “What the people want is very simple. They want an America as good as its promise.” During these difficult days, AARP will use its voice, resources and trust in our brand to continue our fight for what is right. Let us all unite as one and commit to creating a country where every person has the opportunity to live a life of dignity, good health, economic opportunity and purpose — regardless of race, income or age. And when we do that, we will create an America as good as its promise.