We Are AFSCME: Campaign Volunteer Shares His Story of Activism

November 01, 2012

Dwight J. FrederickThis post was written by Dwight J. Frederick, AFSCME Local 714 (Council 4), Connecticut Department of Social Services.

To understand why I decided to participate in a labor walk (in support of Chris Murphy for the U.S. Senate and Elizabeth Esty for the U.S. House), we would need to go back to April 5, 1968. That was the day I realized that there was a man leading his people in a fight for social justice and economic equality

I was just a boy arriving at my elementary school in Hartford, Conn., when I noticed that there was unusual agitation in the school yard. When I asked a friend what was going on he replied, “They killed Martin Luther King!” I asked, “Who is Martin Luther King?”  My young classmate replied, “The leader of the black people!”

All my adult life I have been actively and progressively involved in organizations in support of others. Over the years I have found it very frustrating when individuals volunteer to join an organization and serve in name only or as a “card-carrying” member.

AFSCME VotesMany of our members are not old enough to have experienced the struggles and sacrifices of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Consequently, they are out of touch with the reality of separate and unequal rights that were so pervasive in our society. The rights and freedoms which come so natural today have fostered a culture of entitlement and apathy.  And, sadly, those who choose not to actively support those who would champion our cause are indifferent to all we have to lose.

So, when I am asked why I chose to partake in a labor walk, it is because so many have done so before me. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met his demise on April 4, 1968 as he prepared to lead a march in support of job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition for the sanitation workers of Memphis Tenn. He chose to speak despite the threat of imprisonment.  He chose to march despite the threat of assassination. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t just talk the talk!  He walked the walk!

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