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The March on Washington was about Civil and Workers’ Rights

Photo Credit: National Archives
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By AFSCME STAFF ·

In a column to commemorate the 54th anniversary of the March on Washington, AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders reminds us that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered during that march, pressed not just for civil rights but also for workers’ rights.

March on Washington program (Photo credit: National Archives)

Here are the opening paragraphs of Saunders’ column, which appears in the Afro-American Newspapers:

“Fifty-four years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to proclaim his dream – of a nation where everyone is judged ‘not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’

“The March on Washington was the most storied civil rights gathering in American history. But it was more than a protest against Jim Crow. It was also a demonstration for workers’ rights.

“Throughout his life, Dr. King lifted up the connection between racial justice and economic justice. How could Black Americans overcome segregation without overcoming deprivation? How can you be free unless you’re free from want?”

To read the entire column, go here.

Dr. King was in Memphis, Tennessee, to march for worker’s rights alongside AFSCME sanitation workers in 1968. He was assassinated a day after delivering the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. We’ve launched the I AM 2018 campaign to honor Dr. King and the 1968 Memphis sanitation strikers. 

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