Thousands of Americans across the country honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 2011, while committing themselves to the ongoing struggle for workers rights. AFSCME, labor unions, civil rights organizations and countless progressive groups held more than 1,000 events on the “We Are One” National Day of Action. Because Dr. King gave his life in support of AFSCME members, our union played a central role in marking the occasion this year.
As AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee A. Saunders said on the eve of the “We Are One” headline event in Memphis, “Workers’ rights and civil rights are inseparable.” Saunders marched on City Hall along with thousands of union members and civil rights activists.
“Isn’t it ironic that on April 4, 2011, we are fighting the same fight they were on April 4, 1968?” Saunders said during his speech. Watch video from Memphis here:
- In New Hampshire, where public service workers and other union members face efforts by right-wing state legislators to take away the rights for which Dr. King gave his life, activists were also able to watch “At the River I Stand,” a documentary which chronicles the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike. Copies of the film were also made available for other We Are One events across the country courtesy of AFSCME, the Campaign for America’s Future and California Newsreel.
- In Detroit, Garrick Simpson, a member of AFSCME Local 542, who has been employed with Detroit Parks and Recreation for 28 years said, “We’ve had enough, and we can’t take any more.”
- In Akron, Tom Morneweck of AFSCME Local 1229 said, “Make no mistake about it, folks, we are going to stop this Senate Bill 5.”
- In Des Moines, Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines (D-Des Moines), who was a college student when King was killed, stressed the importance of unity in the face of growing attacks. “We’re going to hang tough and hang together.”
- In Wilmington, Clarence Selby, an AFSCME member at Delaware State University, said that he’s paying close attention to the attacks on workers rights in solidarity with his sisters and brothers in other states.
- In Harrisburg, AFSCME Council 13 President Dave Fillman said, “We’re not gonna be able to balance the entire $4 billion budget on our backs.”
- In White Plains, Judi Brome, a member of CSEA, said, “I wanted to support my fellow union workers and the middle class as we fight for our jobs. King was shot and killed while fighting for union workers in 1968.”