April 4th Day of Action: We Are One
April 04, 2011
Union members and allies are taking part in more than 1,000 events around the nation on and around April 4 in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin and dozens of other states where politicians are attempting to take away the rights of workers.
April 4 was chosen as a day of action in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was murdered on this day in 1968 while he was in Memphis in support of AFSCME Local 1733 sanitation workers. The day before, he delivered his famous "Mountaintop" speech at a rally for the workers. In this selection from All Labor Has Dignity, historian Michael Honey describes the scene:
In the middle of a violent thunderstorm, with tornadoes and lightning touching down in the surrounding area, King arrived at Bishop Charles Mason Temple without a script, with a sore throat, and slightly ill. Violent weather prevented many people from coming, but nearly all thirteen hundred of Local 1733's members came, as did some of their strongest strike supporters. To this humble gathering, King poured out his last testament. He looked back through all of human history to this particular moment in time and called on people to appreciate their opportunity to once again change history.
The speech he gave inspired the workers in the hall that night and still resonate today. Here is an excerpt of the speech. (You can listen to the speech in full in two parts here and here.)
You can read the entire speech, along with commentary by Michael Honey, in All Labor Has Dignity. You can read an excerpt of one of King's other speeches in the book, one he gave to union workers in Chicago in 1967, here or on Scribd. You can purchase this book for 20% off from Beacon.org using code APRIL4 from now until April 30, 2011.