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MLK in Pictures

Imagery of how he brought labor into the civil rights fight

Brian Young's picture
Jan 20, 2020

On January 20th we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The noted civil rights leader was also a fighter for union rights. Throughout the Civil Rights movement, Dr. King was the link that brought unions into the fight. His last act on this Earth was marching with striking sanitation workers in Memphis. Below are some pictures documenting Dr. King’s work throughout the years with labor.

The picture above is Dr. King along with his wife Coretta Scott King, daughter Yolanda (5), and son Martin III (3) playing the piano. The photo is being used this MLK Day by the Long Island Teachers to highlight their Become A Teacher & Help Carry On Dr. Kings Legacy campaign.

The picture above is from the 1963 March on Washington. The march was organized by A. Phillip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Bayard Rustin, to build an alliance of civil rights, labor and, religious organizations. Perhaps the most famous moment from the March was Dr. King delivering his famous “I Have a Dream” speech where he called for an end to racism. Between 200,000 and 300,000 people attended. The march, which focused on economic inequality, had the support of the UAW’s Walter Reuther who bussed in 5,000 members, the most of any single group at the march.

The picture above was from October 1961 when Dr. King and Local #3 IBEW Business Manager and New York Central Labor Council President Harry Van Arsdale Jr met at the Hotel Comodore in Manhattan, New York. Dr. King would visit New York multiple times to meet with union leaders like Van Arsdale.


Pictured above is Dr. King walking a picket line during the Scripto strike in December of 1965. King had a long history of advocating for workers rights. "The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it," King said at the keynote address at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations's annual convention in 1961. "Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them." He was also opposed to Right to Work saying "Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer, and there are no civil rights," King said in 1961. "Our weapon is our vote."

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