In just a few years the once-wild idea of raising the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $15 has become a reality that politicians, corporations and mainstream media can’t ignore. 

That’s because thousands of low-wage workers around the country have staged walkouts, picketed in front of their jobs, marched to city halls and secretly organized their colleagues to demand pay raises and their right to form unions without retaliation. 

Protesting is always serious business, of course. But it’s especially risky when you’re a fast-food service worker supporting three kids and your mother. Or you’re a 21-year-old movie theater employee single handedly taking care of your sick mom and your 6-year-old brother. Or you work double shifts because the $8 or $9 an hour you’re making just won’t cut it. These are just some of the stories of workers who participated in Tuesday’s multi-city, multiracial day of action coordinated by the Fight for $15 campaign. 

Kat Lazo, video production specialist for Colorlines’ publisher Race Forward, hit a McDonald’s near Harlem’s 125th Street and Foley Square, a green space in the Wall Street area, to ask New Yorkers why they took action on Tuesday. —Akiba Solomon