King’s Holiday is Labor’s Day, Too

Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader and eloquent preacher whose life is nationally celebrated as a holiday Jan. 17, also was passionately concerned about workers' rights. A new book, "All Labor Has Dignity," collects 16 of his speeches on economic justice, reminding us about this part of King's work and legacy.

King (Jan. 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was murdered in Memphis, Tenn. the night before he was to lead a protest march on behalf of striking garbage workers. He spoke at state, regional, and national conventions of the Teamsters union, the United Autoworkers, the AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

King received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize when he was only 35 years old, making him the youngest man at that time to receive it, according to's biography of him.

Michael K. Honey, the Haley Professor of Humanities at the University of Washington Tacoma, edited the speeches collected in the book and wrote an introductory essay for it. "People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation," Honey said in an online review of the book posted last month. "As we struggle with massive unemployment, a staggering racial wealth gap and near collapse of our financial system, King's prophetic writings and speeches underscore his relevance for today."

The AFL-CIO held its 2011 four-day holiday observance in King's honor in Cincinnati, Ohio. The event included workshops, a day of community service, and an MLK awards banquet, ending Jan. 17 with a labor breakfast and a parade.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Jan 17, 2011