Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King

By Willie Hardy

This month we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, who did so much to further the cause of equality in our country.

Today, it has become popular for politicians and the media to praise him, while some of them ignore what he stood for. I, for one, am getting tired of the hypocrisy.

To honor the man, we need to tell the truth about what he stood for.

Dr. King died in Memphis, where he was supporting striking sanitation workers. He gave his life as he helped them win their strike for dignity and union recognition.

How many politicians today attack public workers and seek to destroy their unions, while pretending they honor the memory of Dr. King?

Only a few days ago, the Mayor of New York gave a speech praising Martin Luther King, Jr. Then the same Mayor set out to bust the strike of 8,000 school bus workers.

We know what side Dr. King would be on in that fight, because he knew that civil rights and workers' rights cannot be separated.

Here is what Dr. King said in a 1961 speech about so-called "Right to Work" laws:‘

"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.

"Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone."

Today the governors of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana pretend to honor Dr King while they push for anti-labor laws.

Dr. King stood for equality and was willing to fight for it. He stood for grassroots action, in the streets or going to jail when necessary. He was called a "troublemaker," the same word used today against those who take action for racial equality or workers' rights.

Dr. King spoke out against gun violence and taught the power of nonviolence. He marched for peace, and for our nation to stop wasting money on war and to redirect our resources to improve the lives of its citizens.

If Dr. King were alive today, he would still be fighting for the same goals.

All Americans can appreciate how far we have come down freedom's road, and how far we still have to go to realize Dr. King's dream.

We honor Dr. King's legacy by taking up the struggle as he waged it: with truth-telling and nonviolent action for racial and economic justice.

The Rev. Willie Hardy worked as an IBT Political Rep, retired from YRC, and now works
as a Southern Organizer for TDU and as a community activist in Memphis, Tennessee.

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