Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy for Labor Justice
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead, but it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” Less than 24 hours after these prophetic words, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968.
In providing aid and support to the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, Dr. King had been to Memphis twice in the month leading up to this day: speaking a at rally before 15,000 people and returning for a march. When the march erupted in violence and had to be called off, King returned again to restore nonviolence to the movement.
Extolling perseverance, nonviolence, and hope in the face of adversity, he reminded his those present, “Let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now we’ve got to keep attention on that.”
Noting the many travails of the era and its history, he affirmed that there was no other time he would rather live, than in the movement of nonviolent collective action in which his voice had so profoundly resonated.
To all union members carrying out the mission for justice and fairness, his words are ever relevant, “Now what does all this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity.”
Today we give thanks for the life, leadership, wisdom and sacrifice of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Click here for the entire “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech given by Dr. King on April 3, 1968 at Bishop Charles Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee.