04 April 2011


Martin Luther King’s room at the Lorraine Hotel hours after he was shot,
Memphis, Tennessee (April 4, 1968). Photograph © Steve Schapiro.

At the risk of belaboring a point I have been making here for what now has turned into years, Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated on this day in 1968, was in Memphis in solidarity with sanitation workers, who were striking the city not just for decent pay and working conditions but for recognition of their right to form a union. In light of the concerted, ongoing campaign by Republicans to subvert unions, it surely is plausible to wonder how far we remain from the promised land of which King spoke the night before he was shot. King did not "lead" the Memphis strike; indeed, he struggled to keep pace with the radicalism and resolve of the strikers. Who might now aspire to that role?

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