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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.
Presents a collection of speeches by the civil rights leader on the need for economic equality and justice, detailing his support of unions, labor reform, and call for an end to discrimination against African American workers.
Comprehensive history of the Church of God in Christ
Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights chronicles the rarely studied southern industrial union movement from the Great Depression to the cold war, using the strategically located river city of Memphis as a case study. Michael Honey analyzes the economic basis of segregation and the denial of fundamental human rights and civil liberties it entailed. Frequently telling his story through personal portraits of those directly involved, Honey documents the dramatic labor battles and sometimes heroic activities of organizers and ordinary workers that helped to set the stage for segregation's demise. His study of interracial industrial union organizing locates some of the roots of the 1960s civil rights struggles in this earlier era. Honey provides a new context for understanding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1968 campaign in support of poor people and black labor organizing in Memphis. This detailed account provides a fresh perspective on African-American, labor, civil rights, and southern history. It clarifies the relationship between labor and civil rights struggles, deepens our understanding of the role of racism in blocking working-class advancement, and emphasizes the importance of southern interracial organizing to the history of social movements in the United States.
An astonishing account of the assassination of America's most beloved and celebrated civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, by NY Times bestselling author, James L. Swanson.
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." "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.
What was Martin Luther King Jr. really like? In this groundbreaking volume, Lewis V. Baldwin answers this question by focusing on the man himself. Drawing on the testimonies of friends, family, and closest associates, this volume adds much-needed biographical background to the discussion, as Baldwin looks beyond all of the mythic, messianic, and iconic images to treat King in terms of his fundamental and vivid humanness. Special attention is devoted to King’s personal insecurities and struggles, his humility and affinity to common people, his delight in pleasant and passionate conversation, his insatiable love for the precious but ordinary things of life, his robust appetite for artfully-prepared and delicious soul food, his enduring appreciation for music and dance, his cheerful and playful attitude and spirit, his abiding interest in games and sports, and his amazing gift of wit, humor, and laughter. King emerges here as an ordinary human being who enjoyed and celebrated life to the fullest, but was never bigger than life. Here we see the personal qualities of King—as a real, fleshly human being—and also as a man shaped by his social and cultural experiences and locations. This book reclaims the man behind the mythology.

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