Pausing to remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy

Published: January 21, 2019

Today, every member of the SMART union will take time, in conjunction with our entire nation, to honor and remember the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King’s brilliance, vision, leadership and ultimate personal sacrifice shifted the course of American history by shedding light and bringing hope to a nation marred by racism, ignorance and inequality.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for a more just and fair society was driven by a belief that America can and should be a place where all people prosper together. By focusing on what unites us, rather than what divides us, Dr. King showed us there is strength in unity, and taught us the immeasurable power working people have when they join together,” said Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).

“Though it has been more than 50 years since his tragic and untimely passing, Dr. King’s call for positive change through collective action resonates as strongly today as it did when he walked this Earth. We see it in the teachers of Los Angeles who have taken to the streets to protest growing class sizes and inadequate funding. We see it in the tens of thousands of furloughed federal employees and their allies who continue to rally, leaflet, picket, and advocate for a strong, stable, and fully funded government. And we see it in workers across the country who came together to form and join unions in the last year to raise standards for themselves and their communities.

“As our nation pauses to reflect upon the life and teachings of Dr. King, transportation labor is proud to recommit to our efforts to carry his life’s work and legacy forward. Today, and every day, we stand up for the principles of strength through unity by fighting for laws that encourage and empower working people to join together and building a labor movement that will transform misery and despair into hope and progress.”

King’s work and his words brought the promise of justice, hope and freedom to people of color and to the oppressed everywhere. His words still ring as powerfully, relevant and true today as they did more than 50 years ago:

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

–- From Martin Luther King’s historic speech delivered Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Read King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in its entirety here.

Watch highlights of King’s speech.

The National Civil Rights Museum created a website marking the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, which occurred in Memphis while he was supporting union workers.