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"All Labor Has Dignity" (King Legacy) Hardcover – January 11, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

King was in the midst of cultivating an alliance between the civil rights movement and labor unions when he was assassinated in 1968. He was in Memphis to support a strike by black sanitation workers and was planning the Poor People’s Campaign, advocating for jobs, unionization, and dignity for all workers. Despite the sometimes prickly relationship between African Americans and unions with members eager to protect jobs by discrimination, King made substantial inroads with many union leaders. Honey, scholar and former civil rights organizer, offers a collection of 15 of King’s speeches (12 previously unpublished) on workers’ rights. Drawing on archival material from the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Honey reforms King’s image from civil rights activist to labor activist. In speeches delivered in venues including a 1961 AFL-CIO convention in Miami and a meeting with Teamsters in New York in 1967, King’s words put into perspective the labor movement since the 1930s and its links to the civil rights movement via such similar tactics as sit-ins, boycotts, and strikes. This important collection broadens our perception of King’s vision of social justice. --Vanessa Bush


“King was always a champion for labor rights and economic justice, and this volume illustrates that dimension of his leadership. Preceding each carefully transcribed speech, a brief essay by Honey puts King’s words into context. …Highly recommended.”—Choice Magazine

“Michael Honey, a distinguished scholar of labor and African-American History, has done a great service by gathering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches on labor, may of them previously unknown.  He brings to life the King who from the outset of his public career insisted that “the evil of economic injustice” must be combated along with racial inequality, and who saw the effort to eliminate poverty as a natural outgrowth of the civil rights struggle. This is a more complex King than we celebrate every January, forever frozen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivering his “I Have a Dream Speech.”  King’s dream called for nothing less than a radical restructuring of American economic life.”—Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University
“Thanks to Michael Honey’s meticulous editing and the inclusion of rarely heard audio, we can finally grasp the depth of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s commitment to Americans as workers. Now, more than ever, his insights show us the way of transformation from consumers divided by race and ethnicity into an active, united citizenry.”—Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People and Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton University
“This is more than a compelling and unprecedented collection of speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. Through thoughtful introductions to each and every speech, Honey sets the stage for the reader, proving without a doubt that Dr. King was among the greatest labor leaders of the 20th century and that his message continues to resonate powerfully in our age.”—Bill Fletcher, Jr., Editorial Board,; co-founder, Center for Labor Renewal; Board Chairperson, International Labor Rights
“As this powerful and inspiring collection shows, Dr. King was a tireless champion of the working class. But “All Labor Has Dignity” is not just a testament to his rhetorical legacy—it is a call to action.”—Richard L. Trumka, president, AFL-CIO

All Labor Has Dignity is an illuminating argument that King was concerned with much, much more than just the plight of black people. His public career may have started in that arena, but it ended with him as a champion for progressives around the globe.”—Pop Matters

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Product Details

  • Series: King Legacy (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Har/Com edition (January 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807086002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807086001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #631,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"All Labor Has Dignity" is an anthology of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches concerning economic justice. In today's modern era of unemployment, a widening gap between rich and poor, increasingly stark wealth divides along racial lines, and the near-destruction of our financial system due to the machinations of those who put bottom line profits not only above individuals, but also above the economic stability of the entire nation, Dr. King's words are more timely and relevant than ever. "All Labor Has Dignity" includes King's lectures to unions in the 1960s, his addresses during the Poor People's Campaign, and his notable "Mountaintop" speech given on behalf of striking black sanitation workers in Memphis. An introduction, epilogue, and index by editor Michael K. Honey round out this superb addition to social issues shelves, and an accompanying audio CD allows one to listen to two of King's speeches: "The Unresolved Race Question" and "All Labor Has Dignity". Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on November 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a great service to history, taking Dr. King's speeches on the work world and assembling them in one place, with a CD. Each speech is preceded by a useful introduction, placing them in historical context. The last two, dealing with the sanitation workers in Memphis, are poetry. Powerful.
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By Patricia Fry on October 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Honey compiled some of the most important speeches on the all important issue of labor and civil rights by Dr. King. It is a must read to understand the inseparable link between these two movements for the defense of democracy and for progressive change.
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