Denver Honors Dr. King, Champion of Workers' Rights as Human Rights
On April 4. 2011, commemorations of the life, work, and martyrdom of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took place all over the country. Denver activists, workers, and students organized a march, various rallies, and a teach-in and student walk-out. The Denver actions emphasized the themes of Dr. King's solidarity with working class struggle, and the unfinished work left to current and future generations.
The march, organized by SEIU and , began at 17th & California Streets and continued through the downtown area, ending at the . In addition to the usual signs, some marchers carried brooms and mops, while others carried garbage can lids, crashing them together like cymbals. About 200 persons participated, including members of several other unions, the most radical presence being the IWW, who carried a banner that read “Forget Workers' Rights; It's Time for Workers' Control.”
Shortly after the marchers arrived on campus, a teach-in began. Speakers included Mario Solis Marich, Shareef Aleem, Alan Gilbert, Rob DuRay, Nita Gonzales, Politically Active Ztudents, Andrea Merida, David Garner, SEIU Local 105, Cheryl Hutchinson, Henry Roman, and Jeff Englehart. Topics included the importance of youth in the struggle for social change and the speakers' experiences in the Movement. An upbeat atmosphere prevailed, though the small number of students in attendance was disappointing. It was surprising that so few would take advantage of the opportunity to learn from people directly involved in important historical and current events. Especially at a time when working people are under attack, young people preparing to enter the workforce could derive great benefit from an educational event of this type.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs, as well as across the country. We were not present,but CWA has posted a information and pictures on their website. It can be seen here: http://www.cwaunion.org/news/entry/april_4_an_amazing_day_from_coast_to_coast/also held rallies in Thornton and in
Later that afternoon, another rally commenced at City Park, where a statue of Dr. King stands. Organized by candlelight vigil., the rally drew about 1,000 persons, who heard speeches by faith, labor, and community leaders. Music, mainly Motown hits with such socially relevant titles as “Respect” and “What's Goin' On?” was provided by Moment's Notice. The speakers focused on the relationship between organized labor and the , as well as Dr. King's last two campaigns. The rally concluded with a very moving
Dr. King was assassinated 43 years ago, while campaigning for embattled sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. The sanitation workers' struggle had been a long one, culminating in a strike, after the city refused to pay compensation to the families of two men killed on the job. At issue was the human rights and dignity of people who perform strenuous, hazardous labor, vital to the public health. A famous image from the sanitation workers' strike is of a march though the city, with thousands of African-American men carrying signs that read “I Am A Man,” while riot police pointed rifles at them. Similar signs were seen at the commemorative rally in Denver, 43 years later.
Dr. King's last campaign, which he did not live to see, was the Poor People's March, during which Washington Mall. The PPM, in emphasizing the persistence of poverty among people of all races, cast light on the failure of capitalism. But because most Americans were not yet ready to recognize the relationship between capitalism and poverty, the PPM did not succeed. Today, with the willful destruction of the economy, the rollback of workers' rights, and the attacks on the civil and human rights of the people, the lesson that was ahead of its time in 1968 is becoming obvious to all., including African-Americans, Chicanos, Indians, and poor white people from Appalachia, traveled from all over the country to camp on the
The national theme of this year's commemoration, “We are One,” focuses on the unity of struggle, the common cause of all oppressed peoples--an aspect that Dr. King recognized, though popular history, with its shallow nationalism, deliberately edits this out. Only by remembering the real Dr. King, not the fluff character created by capitalist apologists, can we truly honor him and carry on his work.