Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, our country celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A day to reflect on the life and legacy of the great Dr. King, a leader who fundamentally reshaped the American attitude toward race and social justice, and in doing so, brought new meaning to the Constitutional phrase, “all men are created equal.”
While Dr. King is best known for his leadership and accomplishments in the civil rights movement, many people forget that he was also a champion of the American labor movement. Dr. King was a tremendous ally of unions, and his passion for workers’ rights was evident wherever he spoke, including at many labor union conventions.
Seeing an intersection between labor and civil rights, Dr. King spoke about the common interest both movements faced. Addressing the AFL-CIO’s convention in 1961, King observed: “Our needs are identical with labor’s needs: Decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community.”
It is his vision that defined the intersection between workers’ rights and their civil rights, and the power of his words continues to inspire to this day.
So today, I take great pride in recognizing one of America’s greatest heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Together, let us honor his legacy by continuing his fight for a better future for all Americans with the same passion and grace with which he led. Let us also commit to taking on with unflinching determination those that would seek to undo that hard-fought progress for fairness and dignity for all that Dr. King, the American labor movement, and others, have fought so hard to achieve in this country.
Randy L. Erwin
National Federation of Federal Employees