Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day will be celebrated by workers across the state of Oregon today, Monday, January 17th, 2022. As labor union members and specifically those in the African-American community, we have not lost sight of our history and sacrifices in this country. Our African American (AFRAM) Caucus celebrates the contributions our community continues to contribute to the labor movement. We share in the hard-won victories organized workers achieved and are striving to gain. This day we come together as American workers across Oregon to each learn about our shared history and build upon it to grow SEIU503.
Let us recall that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a young man, who labored with thousands upon thousands of people not only to improve the African-American condition in the 20th Century but also the American condition stemming from injustice, inequality, systemic racism, misinformation, denial of human dignity, and civil unrest perpetuated for centuries on this soil. Now more than fifty years after his assassination, his fight and words are just as significant and charged with energy for us to carry forward. Our current state of unrest attests to our need to join together to make Dr. King’s Dream a reality in deeds, not just rhetoric. We hear the resounding call to keep on moving, keep on fighting, and keep on addressing the needs of marginalized Americans, indeed right here in Oregon.
MLK Jr. quotes (cited from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Companion: Quotations from the Speeches, Essays, and Books of Martin Luther King, Jr., Selected by Coretta Scott King. St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY. Feb.1993):
In a multiracial society, no group can make it alone. It is a myth to believe that the Irish, Italians, and the Jews… rose to power through separatism… Their group unity was always enlarged by joining in alliances with other groups such as political machines and trade unions.
To play our role fully as Negroes we will have to strive for enhanced representation and influence in the labor movement. Our young people need to think of union careers as earnestly as they do of business careers and professions.
When remembering, MLK Jr. I can recall him calling for all people to unite in unity and power to change the world! As an African American, I can see that some things have changed, and some have not. In this world how would Martin Luther talk about what is happening all around the world where violence still is at an all-time high! Where racism is still at the forefront of our lives, where we still are not being able to move to the top of our job scales because our society and/or our work organization does not want us to be part of the solution because we are transparent in all we do, and we will speak truth to this darken world. How can we as African Americans help to move the dream, so that our children’s and other folk’s children will have a chance of being able to achieve the dream and to be able not to live in fear? Let’s think about it.
We can support each other by protecting our voting rights. We can participate in our school districts. We can engage in union activism. We can rally and speak out at community events. We can share our stories beyond family and friends, but in our workplaces and legislatures at every level. We can support our community businesses and create new businesses. We can put money and sweat equity into causes we believe in. We can speak our truth and write our history. We can be the one that moves mountains, chip by chip. Most importantly, we can have faith that surpasses evildoers’ understanding.
A day of celebration, a national holiday, a historic civil rights leader and hero to thousands Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – We remember him, but do we remember what he and the multitude of people across this nation over fifty decades ago were fighting to achieve, did achieve, and left to us to continue? Whether you lived during his lifetime or now, African –Americans and allies are still fighting to reach the dream Dr. King spoke of in his famous “I have a dream” speech.
When we come together, we can overcome so much, not only with words but with actions. What will your actions be?
“I Have A Dream” full speech with subtitles
The SEIU503 AFRAM Caucus virtual meetings are on the 3rd Monday of each month at 6 pm PST. Stay informed and ready as African, African American members, and allies bring forth our concerns and issues every month. You may also reach us by Email: AFRAMcaucus@seiu503.org