Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is remembered first and foremost as a civil rights leader, but his kinship to the poor, to working people, and to unions helped shape his dynamic legacy. The speeches gathered here — delivered to crowds of union members and striking workers between 1957 and 1968, then left unpublished and largely unknown for decades after — show Dr. King’s dedication to workers’ rights and economic justice, and the scope of his unfinished agenda. This is a powerful and prescient collection. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
An unprecedented and timely collection of Dr. King’s speeches on labor rights and economic justice
Covering all the civil rights movement highlights — Montgomery, Albany, Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, and Memphis — award-winning historian Michael K. Honey introduces and traces Dr. King's dream of economic equality. Gathered in one volume for the first time, the majority of these speeches will be new to most readers. The collection begins with King's lectures to unions in the 1960s and includes his addresses made during his Poor People's Campaign, culminating with his momentous "Mountaintop" speech, delivered in support of striking black sanitation workers in Memphis. Unprecedented and timely, "All Labor Has Dignity" will more fully restore our understanding of King's lasting vision of economic justice, bringing his demand for equality right into the present.
"This is more than a compelling and unprecedented collection of speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. Through thoughtful introductions to each and every speech, Honey sets the stage for the reader, proving without a doubt that Dr. King was among the greatest labor leaders of the 20th century and that his message continues to resonate powerfully in our age." Bill Fletcher, Jr., Editorial Board, BlackCommentator.com; co-founder, Center for Labor Renewal; Board Chairperson, International Labor Rights
“Michael Honey, a distinguished scholar of labor and African-American History, has done a great service by gathering Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speeches on labor, may of them previously unknown. He brings to life the King who from the outset of his public career insisted that 'the evil of economic injustice' must be combated along with racial inequality, and who saw the effort to eliminate poverty as a natural outgrowth of the civil rights struggle. This is a more complex King than we celebrate every January, forever frozen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivering his 'I Have a Dream Speech.' King's dream called for nothing less than a radical restructuring of American economic life.” Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University
About the Author
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, was among the twentieth century's most influential figures. One of the greatest orators in U.S. history, King is the author of several books, including Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, The Trumpet of Conscience, Why We Can't Wait, and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? His speeches, sermons, and writings are inspirational and timeless. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
Michael K. Honey, a former Southern civil rights and civil liberties organizer, is Haley Professor of Humanities at the University of Washington Tacoma, where he teaches labor, ethnic, and gender studies and American history. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and has won numerous research fellowships and book awards for his books on labor, race relations, and civil rights history, including the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Going Down Jericho Road. He lives in Tacoma, WA.