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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Most Americans know Dr. King as one of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, however, entwined with his leadership in civil rights was his devotion to the Labor Movement. For without economic opportunity, civil rights could not flourish. His commitment to the American worker followed him until the day of his tragic death. On the day of his assassination, Dr. King was in Memphis, Tennessee in support of striking AFSCME sanitation workers. So in honor of Dr. King we offer these inspiring words from a speech he delivered to the Illinois AFL-CIO in 1965:

The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society.

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