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Digital Afro Media
COMMON PATH - The legacy between the labor and civil rights movement
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Category: Black History

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AT IMPORTANT MOMENTS IN OUR HISTORY, THE LABOR MOVEMENT AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT HAVE QUITE LITERALLY WALKED A COMMON PATH.

AS A UNION, THE UAW, LEAD BY WALTER REUTHER, EMBRACED AND STRONGLY SUPPORTED THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT INCLUDING THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT IN 1955 AND MARCHED ALONGSIDE REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR AS HE SOUGHT TO MAKE AMERICA A MORE JUST NATION.
IN 1963, THE UAW GAVE DR. KING OFFICE SPACE AT ITS HEADQUARTERS AT SOLIDARITY HOUSE IN DETROIT WHERE THE NOBEL PRIZE WINNER PENNED HIS “I HAVE A DREAM” SPEECH THAT WAS FIRST SPOKEN DURING DETROIT’S WALK TO FREEDOM MARCH. THE UAW PROVIDED FINANCIAL SUPPORT AND REUTHER STOOD BESIDE KING AGAIN TWO MONTHS LATER WHEN THE SPEECH MADE HISTORY IN WASHINGTON D.C. IT REMAINS FIRMLY ETCHED INTO OUR COLLECTIVE SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS A HALF CENTURY LATER.
THE REASON WE SHARE SO MUCH HISTORY — THE REASON WE HAVE, SO OFTEN, LITERALLY WALKED A COMMON PATH — IS THAT WE SHARE A COMMON VISION.

IT’S A VISION THAT’S GROUNDED IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES ON WHICH OUR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED, BUT THAT ALSO RECOGNIZES THAT OUR DEMOCRACY ISN’T PERFECT.

THE GREAT TASK OF AMERICAN HISTORY IS TO EXTEND DEMOCRACY’S PROMISE TO EXCLUDED GROUPS — TO NON-PROPERTY OWNERS, TO WOMEN, TO AFRICAN-AMERICANS, TO IMMIGRANTS. THE UAW HAS MADE CIVIL RIGHTS A LABOR ISSUE, AND TODAY, THE EROSIONS OF UNIONS IS A CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE.

TODAY, WE ARE WORKING AGGRESSIVELY WITH THE NAACP AND OTHER ALLIES TO REPEAL VOTER SUPPRESSION LAWS AND ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAWS!

THE UAW HAS BEEN A LEADER IN PAY EQUITY MEASURES LIKE THE LEDBETTER FAIR PAY ACT!

WE CONTINUE IN THE STRUGGLE FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR ALL PEOPLE… BECAUSE IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

IN THE SPIRIT OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, MAHATMA GHANDI AND CESAR CHAVEZ, THE UAW IS JOINING FORCES WITH OTHERS WHO SHARE OUR VALUES IN THE STRUGGLE TO REBUILD A FAIR AMERICA FOR ALL.

WE WILL NOT ACCEPT WORKERS BEING TOLD THAT WE CANNOT HAVE DECENT WAGES AND PENSIONS! WE WILL NOT ACCEPT UNCONSCIONABLE CUTS IN FUNDING FOR K-12! WE WILL NOT ACCEPT ONE IN FOUR AMERICAN CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY AND HUNGER! WE WILL NOT ACCEPT HOME FORECLOSURES ON HARD WORKING AMERICANS WHO ARE OUT OF WORK OR UNDERPAID! WE WILL NOT ACCEPT WORKERS BEING STRIPPED OF THEIR COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS!

WE MUST FIGHT AGAINST INJUSTICE BECAUSE WHAT’S AT STAKE IS THE RIGHT OF ALL WORKING MEN AND WOMEN TO DIGNITY AND FAIR TREATMENT ON THE JOB. WHAT’S AT STAKE IS OUR ABILITY TO PROVIDE ALL OUR CHILDREN WITH A BETTER LIFE. WHAT’S AT STAKE IS OUR CONTINUING STRUGGLE TO OVERCOME THE LEGACY OF RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION.

WHAT’S AT STAKE IS THE SOUL OF OUR DEMOCRACY.

IN THIS NEW CENTURY, OUR TWO MOVEMENTS, LABOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS, WILL RISE AND FALL TOGETHER. WE MUST CONTINUE TO WALK A COMMON PATH.

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