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The definitive history of the epic struggle for economic justice that became Martin Luther King Jr.'s last crusade. Memphis in 1968 was ruled by a paternalistic "plantation mentality" embodied in its good-old-boy mayor, Henry Loeb. Wretched conditions, abusive white supervisors, poor education, and low wages locked most black workers into poverty. Then two sanitation workers were chewed up like garbage in the back of a faulty truck, igniting a public employee strike that brought to a boil long-simmering issues of racial injustice. With novelistic drama and rich scholarly detail, Michael Honey brings to life the magnetic characters who clashed on the Memphis battlefield: stalwart black workers; fiery black ministers; volatile, young, black-power advocates; idealistic organizers and tough-talking unionists; the first black members of the Memphis city council; the white upper crust who sought to prevent change or conflagration; and, finally, the magisterial Martin Luther King Jr., undertaking a Poor People's Campaign at the crossroads of his life, vilified as a subversive, hounded by the FBI, and seeing in the working poor of Memphis his hopes for a better America.
Provides an in-depth history of the final crusade of Martin Luther King, Jr., against the economic injustices, racism, and lack of political power that marked 1968 Memphis and transformed the city into a struggle between the white upper crust that sought to prevent change and the black workers, activists, unionists, and black-power advocates that sought to bring about equality.
The definitive history of the epic struggle for economic justice that became Martin Luther King Jr.'s last crusade. Memphis in 1968 was ruled by a paternalistic "plantation mentality" embodied in its good-old-boy mayor, Henry Loeb. Wretched conditions, abusive white supervisors, poor education, and low wages locked most black workers into poverty. Then two sanitation workers were chewed up like garbage in the back of a faulty truck, igniting a public employee strike that brought to a boil long-simmering issues of racial injustice. With novelistic drama and rich scholarly detail, Michael Honey brings to life the magnetic characters who clashed on the Memphis battlefield: stalwart black workers; fiery black ministers; volatile, young, black-power advocates; idealistic organizers and tough-talking unionists; the first black members of the Memphis city council; the white upper crust who sought to prevent change or conflagration; and, finally, the magisterial Martin Luther King Jr., undertaking a Poor People's Campaign at the crossroads of his life, vilified as a subversive, hounded by the FBI, and seeing in the working poor of Memphis his hopes for a better America.
An unprecedented and timely collection of Dr. King’s speeches on labor rights and economic justice Covering all the civil rights movement highlights--Montgomery, Albany, Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, and Memphis--award-winning historian Michael K. Honey introduces and traces Dr. King's dream of economic equality. Gathered in one volume for the first time, the majority of these speeches will be new to most readers. The collection begins with King's lectures to unions in the 1960s and includes his addresses made during his Poor People's Campaign, culminating with his momentous "Mountaintop" speech, delivered in support of striking black sanitation workers in Memphis. Unprecedented and timely, "All Labor Has Dignity" will more fully restore our understanding of King's lasting vision of economic justice, bringing his demand for equality right into the present.
“To the Promised Land helps us to remember King as a prophet for poor and working-class people, as we carry on that campaign against racism and poverty in our own times. A terrific book.” —Timothy B. Tyson, author of The Blood of Emmett Till Fifty years ago, a single bullet robbed us of one of the world’s most eloquent voices for human rights and justice. To the Promised Land goes beyond the iconic view of Martin Luther King Jr. as an advocate of racial harmony, to explore his profound commitment to the poor and working class and his call for “nonviolent resistance” to all forms of oppression—including the economic injustice that “takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.” Phase one of King’s agenda led to the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. But King also questioned what good it does a man to “eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?” In phase two of his activism, King organized poor people and demonstrated for union rights, while also seeking a “moral revolution” to replace the self-seeking individualism of the rich along with an overriding concern for the common good. “Either we go up together or we go down together,” King cautioned, a message just as urgent in America today as then. To the Promised Land challenges us to think about what it would mean to truly fulfill King’s legacy and move toward his vision of “the Promised Land” in our own time.
Chronicles the last 31 hours of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life as he seeks to revive the non-violent civil rights movement and push to end poverty in America.

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