REMEMBERING MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Published: January 15, 2018

Today, every member of the SMART union will pause with our entire nation in honor, solidarity and remembrance of 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.

“Today we pause to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision for a more fair and just society. Recognizing that the struggles for social and economic justice are one and the same, Dr. King saw union representation as the clearest path out of poverty and into the middle class. He understood that by coming together and focusing on what unites us, rather than what divides us, working people can make life better for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).

“Those beliefs led Dr. King to Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 1968, where he proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with the city’s striking sanitation workers. As we now know, this act of solidarity would end in tragedy.”

“As our nation prepares to reflect upon the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s tragic and untimely passing, we cannot and must not forget the ideals he fought and died for — including access to good jobs, fair pay, and safe working conditions — are the same things working people are fighting for today. With middle-class families under attack and special interests bound and determined to erode workers’ rights, Dr. King’s teachings are just as important now as they were 50 years ago,” Willis said. “Transportation labor is proud to carry on Dr. King’s legacy. We pledge today to continue standing up for working families by fighting for an economy that works for everyone and building a labor movement that has the power to ‘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.

Read an article about King and his connections with labor.