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“All Labor Has Dignity”

"All Labor Has Dignity" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jan 11, 2011 | 240 Pages
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“King was always a champion for labor rights and economic justice, and this volume illustrates that dimension of his leadership. Preceding each carefully transcribed speech, a brief essay by Honey puts King’s words into context. …Highly recommended.”—Choice Magazine

“Michael Honey, a distinguished scholar of labor and African-American History, has done a great service by gathering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches on labor, may of them previously unknown.  He brings to life the King who from the outset of his public career insisted that “the evil of economic injustice” must be combated along with racial inequality, and who saw the effort to eliminate poverty as a natural outgrowth of the civil rights struggle. This is a more complex King than we celebrate every January, forever frozen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivering his “I Have a Dream Speech.”  King’s dream called for nothing less than a radical restructuring of American economic life.”—Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University
“Thanks to Michael Honey’s meticulous editing and the inclusion of rarely heard audio, we can finally grasp the depth of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s commitment to Americans as workers. Now, more than ever, his insights show us the way of transformation from consumers divided by race and ethnicity into an active, united citizenry.”—Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People and Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton University
“This is more than a compelling and unprecedented collection of speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. Through thoughtful introductions to each and every speech, Honey sets the stage for the reader, proving without a doubt that Dr. King was among the greatest labor leaders of the 20th century and that his message continues to resonate powerfully in our age.”—Bill Fletcher, Jr., Editorial Board,; co-founder, Center for Labor Renewal; Board Chairperson, International Labor Rights
“As this powerful and inspiring collection shows, Dr. King was a tireless champion of the working class. But “All Labor Has Dignity” is not just a testament to his rhetorical legacy—it is a call to action.”—Richard L. Trumka, president, AFL-CIO

All Labor Has Dignity is an illuminating argument that King was concerned with much, much more than just the plight of black people. His public career may have started in that arena, but it ended with him as a champion for progressives around the globe.”—Pop Matters

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

Editor’s note
Part I
Forging a Civil Rights–Labor Alliance in the Shadow of the Cold War
Chapter 1
“ A look to the future”
—Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Highlander Folk School, Monteagle, Tennessee, September 2, 1957

Chapter 2
 “ It is a dark day indeed when men cannot work to implement the ideal of brotherhood without being labeled communist.”
— Statement of Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in defense of the United Packinghouse Workers Union of America, Atlanta, Georgia, June 11, 1959

Chapter 3
 “ We, the Negro people and labor . . . inevitably will sow the seeds of liberalism.”
— Twenty-fifth Anniversary Dinner, United Automobile Workers Union, Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, April 27, 1961
Chapter 4
 If the Negro Wins, Labor Wins
— AFL-CIO Fourth Constitutional Convention, Americana Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida, December 11, 1961
Chapter 5
“I am in one of those houses of labor to which  I come not to criticize, but to praise.”
— Thirteenth Convention, United Packinghouse Workers Union of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 21, 1962
Chapter 6
“There are three major social evils . . . the evil  of war, the evil of economic injustice, and the evil of racial injustice.”
— District 65 Convention, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Laurels Country Club, Monticello, New York, September 8, 1962

Chapter 7
“Industry knows only two types of workers who,  in years past, were brought frequently to their jobs in chains.”
— Twenty-fifth Anniversary Dinner, National Maritime Union, Americana Hotel, New York City, October 23, 1962
Chapter 8
“Now is the time to make real the promises  of democracy.”
— Detroit March for Civil Rights, Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, June 23, 1963
Chapter 9
“The unresolved race question”
— Thirtieth Anniversary of District 65, RWDSU, Madison Square Garden, New York City, October 23, 1963
part II
Standing at the Crossroads: Race, Labor, War, and Poverty
Chapter 10
 “The explosion in Watts reminded us all that the northern ghettos are the prisons of forgotten men.”
— District 65, RWDSU, New York City, September 18, 1965
Chapter 11
 “Labor cannot stand still long or it will slip backward.”
— Illinois State Convention AFL-CIO, Springfield, Illinois, October 7, 1965
Chapter 12
Civil Rights at the Crossroads
— Shop Stewards of Local 815, Teamsters, and the Allied Trades Council, Americana Hotel, New York City, May 2, 1967
Chapter 13
Domestic Impact of the War in Vietnam
— National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace, Chicago, Illinois, November 11, 1967
Part III
Down Jericho Road: The Poor People’s Campaign and Memphis Strike
Chapter 14
“The other America”
— Local 1199 Salute to Freedom, Hunter College, New York City, March 10, 1968
Chapter 15
“All labor has dignity.”
— American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) mass meeting, Memphis Sanitation Strike, Bishop Charles Mason Temple, Church of God in Christ, Memphis, Tennessee, March 18, 1968
Chapter 16
To the Mountaintop: “Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.”
— AFSCME mass meeting, Memphis Sanitation Strike, Bishop Charles Mason Temple, Church of God in Christ, Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968
Epilogue: king and labor
Appendix: a note on the speeches

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