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MLK: The Dignity And Worth Of Labor

AFL-CIO Convention, December 1961

Negroes are almost entirely a working people. There are pitifully few Negro millionaires, and few Negro employers. 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. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.

AFSCME Memphis Sanitation Strike, April 3, 1968

You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the work and the significance of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth.



  • 1 phyllis c. murray
    · Jan 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the New York City public schools and housing are still virtually segregated by economics. Minorities, also known as the poor, rest at the bottom of the economic ladder. They live in poorer neighborhoods known for their failing schools, high crime rates and inadequate services.

    Teachers in these inner-city schools are always struggling to get the necessities for their students. When lobbying in Albany does not do enough, many teachers are forced to take out-of-pocket monies to create the proper classroom environments. But despite their efforts, the schools become as poor as the neighborhoods they serve.

    The impoverished schools are placed on the bottom of a list for repairs and renovation. Crumbling ceilings, walls, floors become the daily realities of students and teachers. Mice, roaches and more are a part of the setting for lessons unrelated to science. And both students and teachers become caught in the crossfire on the streets and in the schools as crime makes daily inroads.

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is evident that we cannot build a strong foundation for this nation on a foundation of misery for any one of its citizens. There is more work to be done.

    Brown v. Board of Education was merely a beginning.

    We must press on. Phyllis C. Murray, UFT Chapter Leader P.S. 75X District 8

  • 2 Tina Sims
    · Feb 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Things have not changed in favor for the Blacks in American today. However, it seems that things have gotten worst, in all aspects of their livings.

    If you look at the statistics, are in lack of jobs, less-housing available, fewer good schools for their children, and mostly to observe is health and crime rates in the Black Community.

    In my opinion it wouldn’t take much to fix this. Really if the US Courts really cared about Blacks in America.

    Tina S.