Labor celebrates MLK’s union legacy
By Sheri Williams
Thousands of marchers took to the streets of Sacramento to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 20, joined by Labor allies who honored King for his visionary understanding of the ties between Labor and civil rights.
“As much as Dr. King was a civil rights leader, he was also a fighter for Labor and fair working conditions,” said Fabrizio Sasso, head of the Sacramento Central Labor Council. “He was one of the first in our country to speak about the intersectionality of our battles for equity, whether that means racial equity, fair working conditions, access to housing or any of the social issues that form common ground for American workers.”
King was a strong supporter of unions and union causes, often speaking on how good jobs were critical to racial justice in America.
Speaking at a United Auto Workers convention in 1962, King said, “It is in this area (politics) of American life that labor and the Negro have identical interests. Labor has grave problems today of employment, shorter hours, old age security, housing and retraining against the impact of automation. The Congress and the Administration are almost as indifferent to labor’s program as they are toward that of the Negro. Toward both they offer vastly less than adequate remedies for the problems which are a torment to us day after day.”
King was celebrated for his legacy during the January parade, which drew more than 20,000 marchers. Taking a different path this year to avoid downtown construction, marchers began and ended at Sacramento City College, adding the traditional extra mile through Oak Park for some earlier in the morning.
Along with the Sacramento Central Labor Council, union members from the American Postal Workers and other unions joined in.
The parade was one of thousands of events nationwide. On the east coast, Democratic presidential candidates came together for a rare moment of solidarity amidst campaigning for the upcoming primaries. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar were among those presidential hopefuls who marched in a parade in Washington, D.C.
Sacramento’s parade focused on many social justice issues that have concerned the community in the past year, including housing costs and criaminal justice reform. Stevante Clark, brother of Stephon Clark, who was shot by police, rode atop one of the parade’s main floats. He extolled the crowd with his trademark phrase, “Everybody love everybody.”