The unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial this weekend provides a clear opportunity to reflect on the work of this icon. When he was assassinated in April 1968, Dr. King was in Memphis lending his support to striking garbage sanitation workers who were seeking to have their union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, (AFSCME) recognized so they could negotiate a contract that raised their standard of living.
Dr. King’s support of the labor movement as a pathway to better jobs and justice did not just begin in 1968. Throughout much of his life, he advocated as much for economic equality as he did for racial equality. He once stated that it did no good for a man to eat at an integrated lunch counter if that same man could not afford to buy a hamburger at the establishment.