Monday, January 16, 2006

MLK Jr. Died at a Union Picket Line

MLK Jr. Died at a Union Picket Line
By Nathan Newman
TPM Cafe

Most people have seen clips of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I've been to the Mountaintop" speech in Memphis where he died, but relatively few know that he was there as part of a sustained campaign to support an AFSCME strike of santitation workers demanding a union.

In the dumbing down of celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. as a national icon, the relatively radical demands for economic justice that he was making in his later years tend to disappear.

But Martin Luther King Jr. had made a strike of public employees in Memphis a centerpiece of his efforts to launch the "Poor Peoples Campaign" of his final year. You can read more details about the strike at this website commemorating the strike, but it's worth understanding that Martin Luther King Jr., even as he rightly criticized the exclusionary rules of some individual unions, always saw a strengthening of unions and labor as critical to achieving long term justice for African Americans.


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