NTEU commemorates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 50 years after his remarkable journey was cut short on April 4, 1968.
Although many people know that Dr. King died in Memphis, Tenn., they may not know that he was there to support the right of public workers to have a union. Dr. King believed that the civil rights movement was about more than civil rights—it was about human rights and that included labor rights.
The night before he was assassinated, Dr. King told a group of striking sanitation workers, “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end.” He had returned to Memphis to show his solidarity for 1,300 black sanitation workers striking for a decent wage, union recognition and better safety standards after two collectors were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck.
“All labor has dignity,” Dr. King had told a Memphis crowd earlier on March 18, a month into the strike. “Whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity, and it has worth.”
When he died, Dr. King left behind many legacies: a champion for civil rights, voting rights, religious freedom and economic justice.
NTEU joins the country in reflecting on these lasting legacies and in celebrating a man who transformed our country in so many ways.