The strike followed the death of two black workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who were crushed by a faulty garbage truck compressor. The needless deaths became a rallying cry for recognition—of the union, of the workers’ rights, and of their basic humanity as African-American men in the still-segregated South. In response to the tragedy, the city’s sanitation department gave each of the grieving families one month’s pay and $500 for funeral expenses. No one from the city government would attend the funerals. [TDU]The strike was eventually won. King's last speech, the powerful and foreboding speech about having seen the promised land was a speech given in Memphis. King did not consider himself to be limited to "civil rights" - although "limited" is not the right word. He did not see civil rights to be separate from other issues of social justice. And his analysis of the War and economics is still relevant. Here is MLK on Vietnam.
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?" "Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" "Peace and civil rights don't mix," they say. "Aren't you hurting the cause of your people," they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.Here is MLK on economic justice
The problem indicates that our emphasis must be twofold: We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available... Work of this sort could be enormously increased, and we are likely to find that the problem of housing, education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished. The poor, transformed into purchasers, will do a great deal on their own to alter housing decay. Negroes, who have a double disability, will have a greater effect on discrimination when they have the additional weapon of cash to use in their struggle.There's a message that has never been more relevant. There is a really excellent post putting some of this together, and the source of most of these links. at http://moneyandvalues.blogspot.com , a blog I otherwise don't know anything about.
Beyond these advantages, a host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security. The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life are in his own hands, when he has the assurance that his income is stable and certain, and when he knows that he has the means to seek self-improvement. Personal conflicts between husband, wife, and children will diminish when the unjust measurement of human worth on a scale of dollars is eliminated.
Now, our country can do this. John Kenneth Galbraith said that a guaranteed annual income could be done for about twenty billion dollars a year. And I say to you today, that if our nation can spend thirty-five billion dollars a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam, and twenty billion dollars to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God's children on their own two feet right here on earth