By Michelle Little, Young Activist Leader and PJALS Intern

Being a single mother of three young children, I depend on many programs to care for my family while I am attending college, including Medicaid, food stamps, child care assistance and the Washington State Need Grant for higher education. Continuing cuts to these programs will devastate families such as my own, and many other families who are struggling to stay afloat.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day I had the privilege of speaking at the rally on the capitol steps with 300 people at Washington Community Action Network’s Racial Justice Rally in Olympia. I went with a delegation from the Peace and Justice Action League including my fellow intern Justin Filla. This was the first time I had ever spoken in front of a crowd, and although it was very scary it was also very empowering to be able to tell my story and have the support of so many people who feel the same way I do.

Along with issues surrounding racial equality in the state of Washington, we were also lobbying to urge legislators to raise revenue, close corporate tax loopholes and stop the cuts to vital social service programs and to expand rather than cut programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

I was also given the opportunity to speak with and share my concerns with two of our local legislators, Jeff Holy and Kevin Parker. It is important for people to understand that in order to make changes in our world we must be proactive and continue to fight for what we believe in. Thanks to organizations like PJALS and WACAN, people like me can be given the opportunity to push our state to make changes in the right direction.