Honoring the Legacy of MLK By Continuing the Fight

AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr., was presented with the Labor Award by Rev. Al Sharpton during the National Action Network’s annual King Day Breakfast

“We saw a real leader in this nation during the government shutdown and that man stood with the principles of Dr. King for the rights of laborers, for the rights of those that would suffer for no reason than someone’s partisan and political agenda,” said Sharpton during his introduction of Cox. “He has shown that principle with issues throughout his life as it affects labor, as it affects race, as it affects civil rights.”

Cox recalled his childhood in Kannapolis, North Carolina, where he said he ‘vividly’ remembered the injustice of segregation, or as he called it ‘an American apartheid.’ Cox said that Kannapolis was home to one of the longest labor battles in United States history and that the struggle personified the connection between labor and the civil rights movement.

“Early in my life, I saw how the forces of greed and the enemies of justice practiced ‘divide and conquer,” said Cox. “Pitting workers against each other and enflaming racial hatred all for the sake of keeping wages low, unions out and profits high.” 

Cox said that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered hope as an answer to ‘divide and conquer’ and that by uniting the labor and civil rights movements, Dr. King’s dream could be realized. 

“Our dedication to social and economic justice is one and the same,” he said. “Joining together as one movement is how we will defeat the forces of greed; how we will empower workers to improve their lives and fill this potential; how we will make our nation fulfill its promise as a place where all people are created equal and all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

On Monday, AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Eugene Hudson, Jr., and National Vice President of Women’s and Fair Practices Augusta Thomas were in San Antonio, Texas for the 2014 AFL-CIO Civil and Human Rights Conference. The annual event honors the legacy and life of King, reinforces the bond between the labor and civil rights movements, and encourages collective action.

The conference coincided with the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march. Organizers estimated that 175,000 people participated in the march, which included hundreds of activists from AFGE and other labor organizations. 

Last week, Cox, Hudson and Thomas released a video message commemorating the birthday of the Civil Rights leader.

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