Closer Look: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Influence On The Labor Movement

The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, right, and Bishop Julian Smith, left, flank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during a civil rights march in Memphis, Tenn., March 28, 1968.
The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, right, and Bishop Julian Smith, left, flank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during a civil rights march in Memphis, Tenn., March 28, 1968.
Credit Jack Thornell / Associated Press

Friday on “Closer Look with Rose Scott”:

Today is a special edition of Closer Look focusing on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact on the Labor Movement.

  • 0:00: But first, Rose gives a news brief on the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park re-opening Saturday morning, ahead of Monday’s federal King holiday, despite the partial federal government shutdown. This is due to financial support from the Atlanta based Delta Airlines Foundation and the National Park Service. The airline’s foundation is contributing more than $83,000 in grant funding. In a statement from the foundation, Delta’s grant will cover clean up, administration and operation costs related to the park’s reopening, which are not covered under the national park’s fee collection. The park will remain open until through Feb. 3 when Atlanta hosts Super Bowl LIII.
  • In related news, people around the country are looking for ways to help furloughed federal employees during the partial government shutdown, and that includes Atlanta-based Chef Deborah Vantrece, Executive chef and owner of Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours. Chef Vantrece tells us more about the free lunch her restaurant will host for federal employees during the MLK holiday.
  • 8:09: Economic equality was one of the final causes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would defend, before his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King preached of ‘triple evils’ — racism, militarism and poverty — all of which, he said, were interconnected and a part of a vicious cycle. Dr. Andrew Douglas, associate professor of political science at Morehouse College, explains how Dr. King’s beliefs for racial equality intersected with economic justice.
From Left to Right Jerome Westpoint, a sanitation worker and union member at Republic Services, Dr. Andrew Douglas, associate professor of political science at Morehouse College and Ben Speight, Local Organizing Director and Business Agent at Teamsters Local 728 about the importance of Dr. King’s work on past and present causes within the labor movement. Photo credit: Anastaciah M. Ondieki
  • 24:53: On MLK Day, the local teamster’s labor union will gather to march, and honor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and remember his contributions to the Memphis sanitation workers. A conversation with Jerome Westpoint, a sanitation worker and union member at Republic Services, and Ben Speight, Local Organizing Director and Business Agent at Teamsters Local 728, about the importance of Dr. King’s work on past and present causes within the labor movement.
  • 44:22: We explore the legacy of the Rev. James Orange, the civil Rights activist and aide to Dr. King, who had a huge role in many labor movements. A conversation with his daughter Jamida Orange about continuing her father’s work through her role as the executive director of the MLK March Committee and Africa/African American Renaissance Festival.

Closer Look is produced by Candace Wheeler and Grace Walker. Anastaciah M. Ondieki contributed to this article.