On February 1 1968, two Memphis sanitation workers were crushed to death by a malfunctioning sanitation truck. Frustrated by the city's longstanding pattern of abuse and neglect of its Black workers, 1300 Memphis sanitation workers went on strike on February 12 1968. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had just launched the Poor People's Campaign for economic justice and he was traveling the country rousing support for the campaign. When called upon by leaders of the sanitation workers to support their strike, he answered the call.
On March 18 1968, Dr. King came to Memphis and spoke to a crowd of 25.000 packed into Bishop Charles Mason Temple of the Church of God in Christ. It was the largest indoor gathering the civil rights movement had ever experienced. Dr. King did not disappoint. In a speech entitled "All Labor Has Dignity", he delivered one of his most powerful ,prescient, and provocative speeches. He spoke of racism, unemployment and underemployment; he spoke passionately and critically of poverty, the wealth gap, and the government's refusal to acknowledge the poor. Does this sound familiar? 50 years later on March 18 2018, the Chapel Hill/Carrboro NAACP and others will sponsor a program to commemorate and celebrate this speech which is so relevant yet today. We will also acknowledge and honor the courage and struggle of the striking workers and their supporters. Finally, and most importantly we will hear from scholars and activists, workers and union organizers on present day challenges of workers and an economic structure that supports the wealthy. This also is a call to action. Will you answer the call?
The program will take place on Sunday March 18 from 3-5:30 pm at United Church of Chapel Hill. Co-sponsors include NC State AFL-CIO , Fight For $15 And A Union , Black Workers For Justice , NC Public Service Workers Union-U.E.Local 150