Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. means recognizing and uplifting the humanity of our neighbor. Dr. King dedicated his life to the service of others. Through relentless activism, community outreach and an unwavering determination in the fight for equality, Dr. King is memorialized in our nation’s history.
Fifty years after the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 we cannot help but remember the tumultuous times that brought about this important legislation. Dr. King was instrumental in the passing of the law. His work with countless other activists in Selma exemplify the sacrifices and adversities that come with challenging the status quo to create meaningful change.
Dr. King’s work against institutionalized racism and compassion for the disenfranchised are models on how labor activists can continue the work in our communities. Though times have changed, there are still advances that we must make as a society. The movements of the past have shaped our current movements for justice and equality.
Dr. King was a staunch supporter of workers’ rights and recognized the parallels between the civil rights and labor movements. At a speech given to the Illinois State AFL-CIO in 1965 he said, “The two most dynamic movements that reshaped the nation during the past three decades are the labor and civil rights movements. Our combined strength is potentially enormous.”
So let us continue our work in pushing back against pay freezes, pension cuts and the ability to form and join a union. And in that work let’s continue our support with grassroots movements for equality. Our advocacy for justice cannot end at the workplace. It must manifest in all spaces where we find injustice.