On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis to support AFSCME sanitation workers. That evening, he delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech to a packed room of supporters. The next day, he was assassinated.
Read the full Mountaintop” speech
The history of AFSCME began in 1932, as the country suffered through a severe economic depression, when a small group of white-collar professional state employees met in Madison, Wisconsin, and formed what would later become Wisconsin State Employees Union/Council 24. The reason for the group’s creation was simple: to promote, defend and enhance the civil service system. They also were determined to help spread the civil service system across the country.
Gearing up for the biggest nationwide mobilization of workers in decades, CWA, the union movement and a growing list of allies are planning activities and events for April 4, the day in 1968 that Martin Luther King was murdered while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis.
From wearing stickers that say, “Stand Up for Workers’ Rights” to leafleting, community outreach, rallies, candlelight vigils and more, CWA locals, sectors and districts will be working hard to meet President Larry Cohen’s goal to have dramatic events in every workplace across the United States.
“On April 4 this year, the anniversary of Dr. King’s death, we will stand together across this country for those same human rights and human dignity for working men and women,” the call to action states. “We will remember the courage and determination of those 1,300 workers who endured assault and arrest as they walked a picket line for two months, as we stand with public workers whose bargaining rights are under attack, with private workers who can’t get bargaining rights, and against those politicians and their allies who want to silence our political voice.”
“President Obama is the only choice for the 99%. We must put people back to work, make the 1 percent pay their fair share, and protect Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. President Obama will stand up for working families,” said AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have a prescription for the U.S. economy that was written by the same corporate interests that got us into this mess in the first place. We’ve all seen the depths the right-wing extremists governors will go to at the expense of working families, and we certainly don’t need that type of leadership in the White House. The GOP candidates just don’t get it, they are out of touch with reality. We believe that American voters are smarter than that and will say thanks but no thanks to their 1 percent agenda and work to re-elect President Obama to a second term.”