Monday, April 4, 2011

Love of Labor

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)

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. - The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memphis, TN, April 3, 1968

Less than 24 hours after uttering these words to an over-packed hall in Memphis 43 years ago, Dr. King was shot dead by an assassin's bullet.

Dr. King was actually more of a Renaissance man than people thought he was. If one mentions Dr. King's name, you'll likely think of civil rights marches, Dr. King's arms linked with those of his aides and supporters. Yet Dr. King didn't merely advocate on behalf of other African Americans but widened his compassionate scope to all Americans and even all people. He was also a vocal and eloquent critic of the Vietnam War.

And, as in the case of Memphis, he was also a vocal and impassioned supporter of the labor movement.

By early April, Dr. King was tired and weary. He didn't want to go to Memphis to speak on behalf of the city sanitation workers who'd been on strike. After all, he had several other projects going on, was flying back and forth the US between speaking engagements and meetings. Plus, he'd been in Memphis just the month before on behalf of sanitation workers who wanted to be recognized by AFSCME. A demonstration less than a week prior to King's return had turned violent when protesters used their signs to break windows of businesses. Looting ensued, 60 were injured, many arrested and one demonstrator was even killed. However, realizing that his voice was needed, the civil rights leader went, anyway, and stepped into tragic destiny.

Specifically, King was there to argue on behalf of the workers' right to collectively bargain. Here's's brief backstory of how this speech was precipitated:
During a heavy rainstorm in Memphis on February 1, 1968, two black sanitation workers had been crushed to death when the compactor mechanism of the trash truck was accidentally triggered. On the same day in a separate incident also related to the inclement weather, 22 black sewer workers had been sent home without pay while their white supervisors were retained for the day with pay. About two weeks later, on February 12, more than 1,100 of a possible 1,300 black sanitation workers began a strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition. Mayor Henry Loeb, unsympathetic to most of the workers' demands, was especially opposed to the union. Black and white civic groups in Memphis tried to resolve the conflict, but the mayor held fast to his position.

The shabby treatment of city union workers and the complete nonchalance of worker safety was as much predicated on Jim Crow racism as on basic anti-union sentiment. Loeb came from a business background and was a staunch conservative, exactly the kind of person who would be utterly unsympathetic to the rights and safety of workers.

Loeb was as obstinate as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and refused help from other unions to mediate and even from President Lyndon B. Johnson. He stubbornly insisted the strike was illegal, operating on the sleazy Catch 22 argument that a city sanitation worker had no right to go on strike because they weren't allowed to join the AFSCME union. He tried to hire scabs and used the Memphis police to brutalize the 1100 striking workers.

It took King's tragic and shockingly sudden assassination to force a temporary resolution to the standoff but to his own dying day, Loeb was proud of not standing down to what he insisted was an illegal strike and never seemed to acknowledge that he was the mayor of the city in which America's greatest 20th century civil rights leader was murdered. Essentially, if Loeb wasn't so inflexible, Dr. King wouldn't have had to go to Memphis and he could probably still be alive today.

And if he was, Dr. King would be appalled to see all the hard work that brought about the change with which we'd all grown up. King would be rubbing his eyes, scarcely believing that other white right wingers are nakedly trying to catapult us back into the 19th century by smashing public unions, stripping them of collective bargaining rights, forcing them to contribute more heavily to their own benefits, raiding their pension funds then sending out layoff notices to those who didn't knuckle under.

He'd be stunned beyond belief that white conservatives are actually trying to undermine or outright eradicate even child labor laws especially during a time when the labor pool is 5 times larger than the job market.

Dr. King would also be appalled at this latest round of adventurism in Libya and backwards slide of the civil rights movement that had reared its ugly head in 2000 when, in typical white Republican fashion, Secretary of State and Bush campaign co-chair Katherine Harris hired a data-mining company called ChoicePoint based in Dr. King's home state of Georgia to draw up a list of nearly 100,000 names of mostly African Americans. This list formed the basis of these people being denied the right to vote on Election Day 2000. Had these reliable Democratic voters been allowed to vote, the election's result never would've been in any doubt, the SCOTUS never would've been able to get involved, our country, and the world, would be much different today.

But Jena, Louisiana and the virulent, post-Jim Crow Tea Bagger racism we've seen since Barack Obama got elected President would've informed Dr. King that it's as if his legacy and life, all his hard work, never happened. It's almost as if Dr. King never existed, an anachronism that offered an all too brief and temporary stay against the mindless hatred, cruelty and racism that roils beneath the red, white and blue of Old Glory like a festering cancer never quite in remission.


At April 5, 2011 at 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WE are PERSONS! DePERSONify Corp.s OR Habeas Corpi!

At April 5, 2011 at 11:13 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Uh, yeah, dude. Whatever.

At April 6, 2011 at 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr King was a Republican...Not many people know that.

At April 6, 2011 at 10:58 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Yeah, right. Let's see: He was an antiwar pacifist, was all for economic opportunities for everyone, was pro-African American, pro-labor...

Yeah, if King was still alive, he would've fit right in with the GOP, moron.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
  • The Missing Security Tapes From the World Trade Center.
  • It's a Blunderful Life.
  • The Civil War II
  • Sweet Jesus, I Hate America
  • Top Ten Conservative Books
  • I Am Mr. Ed
  • Glenn Beck: Racist, Hate Monger, Comedian
  • The Ten Worst Music Videos of all Time
  • Assclowns of the Week

  • Links to the first 33 Assclowns of the Week.
  • Links to Assclowns of the Week 38-63.
  • #106: The Turkey Has Landed edition
  • #105: Blame it on Paris or Putin edition
  • #104: Make Racism Great Again Also Labor Day edition
  • #103: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Toilet edition
  • #102: Orange is the New Fat edition
  • #101: Electoral College Dropouts edition
  • #100: Centennial of Silliness edition
  • #99: Dr. Strangehate edition
  • #98: Get Bentghazi edition
  • #97: SNAPping Your Fingers at the Poor edition
  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Top 10 Things Donald Trump Said to President Obama
  • Paul Ryan's Top Ten Conditions on Running for the Speakership
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Mitt Romney Won't Run for President in 2016
  • Top 10 Results of the NYPD's Work Slowdown
  • Top 10 Secret Service Security Breaches
  • Top 10 LA Radio Shows That Are Rated Higher Than Rush Limbaugh's
  • Top 10 Reasons Operation American Spring Went Flat
  • Top Ten Facts of the MH370 Air Disaster
  • Top 10 Tips for GOP Congressmen Running Against Women
  • Top 10 Signs Walmart's Mistreating its Workers
  • Top 10 Diversions John McCain Found During Syria Hearing
  • Top 10 George Zimmerman Excuses for Speeding.
  • Top 10 Reasons Paula Deen Got Fired by the Food Network
  • Top Ten Ways Pope Francis is Deviating From Convention
  • Top 10 Reasons For the Pope's Resignation
  • Top 10 Emails Hacked From the Bush Family's Email Accounts
  • Top 10 Lies Told by Mitt Romney at the 2nd Debate.
  • Top 10 Examples of How Hard the Campaign Trail is on Ann D. Romney.
  • Top 10 Ways to Tell The Boston Red Sox Are Finished.
  • Top 10 Things Mitt May be Hiding in His Tax Returns.
  • Top 10 Events at the Romney Olympics.
  • Mitt Romney's Top 10 Wild & Crazy Moments.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Dick Cheney Got a Heart Transplant.
  • Top 10 Facts About Tonight's New England/Denver Game.
  • My Top 10 Resolutions.
  • Top 10 Rejected Slogans of the Romney Campaign.
  • Top 10 Reasons Herman Cain Suspended His Campaign.
  • Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter During #OWS Eviction.
  • Top 10 Herman Cain Pickup Lines.
  • Top 10 Changes Since Anthony Weiner Decided to Resign.
  • Top 10 Inaccuracies re bin Laden's Death.
  • Top 10 Ways to Prevent a TSA Patdown.
  • Top Ten Things Not to Say When You're Pulled Over.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Donald Trump Bowed Out of the Presidential Race.
  • Top 10 Ways Evangelicals Will Prepare for the Rapture II.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Today's Parliament Inquiry into News Corp.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why There Was No Vote on the Debt Ceiling Last Night.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Dick Cheney's Upcoming Memoir.
  • Top Ten Ways Americans Will Observe the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
  • Top Ten Advances in Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.
  • Top Ten Inaccuracies in Bill O'Reilly's Book About Lincoln.
  • Top Ten Suggestions From the Cat Food Commission.
  • Top Ten Worst Moments in George W. Bush's Presidency.
  • Top Ten Facts in George W. Bush's Memoir.
  • Top Ten Reasons Terry Jones Postponed His Koran Burning
  • Top 10 Causes for Dick Cheney's Congestive Heart Failure
  • Top Ten Ways That Jan Brewer Will Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
  • Top Ten Demands in Sarah Palin's Contract
  • Top Ten Whoppers in Karl Rove's New Book
  • Top 10 Items Left Behind in Rush Limbaugh's Apartment
  • Top Ten Things Barack Obama said to Rush Limbaugh in the Hospital
  • Top Ten Bizarre Promos Offered by the New Jersey Nets
  • Top 10 Bush Executive Orders Labor Wants President Obama to Repeal
  • George W. Bush's Top Ten Lesser Achievements
  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
  • Powered by Blogger