Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was not only a leader who ushered in a movement for justice, peace and reconciliation, but a man who changed the course of history. As we approach his birthday, it is time to honor his legacy and rededicate ourselves to the movement he helped launch. To this day, the work Dr. King started, shapes our efforts and aspirations to build a more just and fair world and forge a nation where opportunity and prosperity are shared equally by all.

While all Americans have much to be thankful to Dr. King for, we owe a special debt for the work he did to advance the American Labor movement. Dr. King was firmly committed to the cause of working people and believed that the cause of labor was inextricably linked with racial justice and civil rights. From the first days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott that brought him to national attention, to that tragic night in Memphis nearly 13 years later, Dr. King worked hand-in-hand with local and national labor leaders. Indeed, it was a local leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, E.D. Nixon, who recruited a young Reverend Dr. King to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In 1961, he denounced so-called “right-to-work” laws as “false slogans” designed “to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”

While great progress has been made in the decades since his death, there is still work to be done. In Dr. King’s own words to galvanize striking sanitation workers in Memphis, “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through.” Dr. King literally gave his life fighting shoulder to shoulder with the labor movement. It's up to each every one of us to build on his legacy, speak truth to power, fight for our livelihoods and ensure that workers’ rights and one's civil rights are respected.

On behalf of myself, General Secretary-Treasurer Armand E. Sabitoni and the entire LIUNA General Executive Board, I wish you a happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend and hope that you join me in taking inspiration from his incredible legacy.