Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. – The intersection between worker’s rights and civil rights

The Maddow Blog had a great post today about Martin Luther King, Jr’s ability to see that worker’s rights and civil rights went hand in hand.  To quote the post:

One thing we can be quite sure of is that in his day, Dr. King supported union rights. He was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, when he was in town for a labor strike by the city’s sanitation workers.

The Maddow Blog then quoted Arnie Alpert from today’s Concord Monitor:

King spoke out consistently against “right-to-work” laws like the one adopted in last year’s legislative session and vetoed by Gov. John Lynch. “Right-to-work “provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works,’ King said. “Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining.”

Of all the lessons I learned in 2012, the biggest was that all of the advances I thought those of us who work for a living had made were anything but settled.  I was humbled to consider my place in a long line of people who have fought so hard for what I consider to be part of living in a “civilized world” and disappointed to see that those who gave their lives for the cause of working people everywhere were so quickly forgotten.  On this day, I’m remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the Memphis Sanitation Workers – those who lost their lives at work and those who were denied the basic dignities due to all human beings.  We have not come nearly far enough and we owe it to them to continue to fight.

You can read more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Memphis Santiation Worker’s Strike over at the National Archives.


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