Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King And #BlackLivesMatter

Unless the gentle reader only gets their information from Faux News, you are aware that the protests of police brutality and epidemic of unarmed black men being killed wantonly are ongoing in cities throughout the nation.

Republicans, like Milwaukee County Supervisor <a href="">Deanna Alexander</a>, have sunk so low as to mock these deaths. Republicans, like Alexander, have also complained that these protests are causing inconveniences by doing die ins at malls and blocking freeways.  Republicans, like Alexander, have also complained that special interests (read: the Labor Movement) has tried to hijack the same movements that they deride:

(Wisconsin Jobs Now is a pro-labor organization that has also been leading the #BlackLivesMatter protests.)

They really take the cake when they say that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would never have approved of these tactics or Labor's involvement in the protests.

For all their carping and complaining, the only thing that these people have accomplished is to put their ignorance on display for everyone to see.

Dr. King addressed these issues in 1961, when he spoke to the national convention of the AFL-CIO:
Negroes in the United States read this history of labor and find it mirrors their own experiences.  We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us.  They deplore our discontent, they resent our will to organize, so that we may guarantee that humanity will prevail and equality will be exacted.  They are shocked that action organizations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and protests are becoming our everyday tools, just as strikes, demonstrations and union organization became yours to insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table.

We want to rely upon the good will of those who oppose us.  Indeed, we have brought forward the method of nonviolence to give an example of unilateral good will in an effort to evoke it in those who have not yet felt it in their hearts.But we know that if we are not simultaneously organizing our strength we will have no means to move forward.  If we do not advance, the crushing burden of centuries of neglect and economic deprivation will destroy our will, our spirits and our hopes.  In this way labor's historic tradition of moving forward to create vital people as consumers and citizens has become our own tradition, and for the same reasons.

This unity of purpose is not a historical coincidence.  Negroes are almost entirely a working people. There are pitifully few Negro millionaires and few Negro employers.  Our needs are identical to Labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.  That is why Negroes support labor's demands and fight laws which curb labor.  That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.
Indeed, the ties between the labor movement and race equality goes all the way back when union organizers went to the Deep South to help blacks fight for better wages and working conditions.  Conservatives who want to restore a plantation economy have been bitter ever since.

Cross posted at Crooks and Liars.

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