Celebrating Our Roots, 1

Martin Luther King Jr
Monday, August 28th marked the 60th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. MLK often talked about segregation, and he began criticizing racism as a form of class division. He named “racism, economic exploitation, and militarism” as the “three evils” or “giant triplets.” Not long after he began explicitly condemning capitalism and imperialism, and started the “Poor People’s Campaign” which went way beyond civil rights, he was assassinated. Though he rarely said it explicitly, he was concerned about the environment (he mentions “injustice of polluted air”). On March 18, 1968, MLK addressed a crowd of 25,000 in support of Memphis sanitation workers’ efforts to get their union recognized and to secure better pay and better safety standards. The Sanitation Workers Strike was King’s final struggle; a day after delivering the “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech to participants of the strike, he was assassinated.
MLK’s relationship with sanitation workers resonates powerfully with the movement for environmental and economic justice. We commend and uplift his work on racial and economic justice, key points of focus in our efforts.
Unions must renew their historic position as social justice leaders, rather than collaborate with the corporate co-optation of Just Transition language.
Photo: “Martin Luther King press conference / [MST].” Original black and white negative by Marion S. Trikosko. Taken August 26th, 1964, Washington D.C, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.