Martin Luther King III to Speak at Million Worker March, October 17, 2004, in Washington, DC


Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King III have endorsed the Million Worker March on Washington on October 17. Martin Luther King III will stand in the footsteps of his father at the Lincoln Memorial on October 17 and address the mass mobilization. The declaration of support by Coretta Scott King will be presented.

The Million Worker March will also feature presentations by Reverend E. Randall Osburn, Executive Vice President of the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation, and a close collaborator of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and by Dick Gregory, the noted social activist and associate of Dr. King.

The call for the Million Worker March was initiated by International Longshore Workers Union Local 10. The presence of the family of Dr. King is a fitting moral and political expression of historical continuity.

On September 21, 1967, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a moving presentation at the hall of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10. The ILWU Dispatcher reported on September 29, 1967,

“Referring to labor history, King noted that the civil rights sit-in movement was actually invented by the labor movement, and we have to keep on sitting-in at factory gates, at the steps of Congress and even in front of the White House.”

Dr. King was made an honorary member of the ILWU Local 10. At the presentation, Dr. King appeared with William “Bill” Chester, who had become the first major African-American official of the ILWU as International Vice President, a direct consequence of the civil rights movement’s infusion within the labor movement itself.

On October 15, 1967, Dr. King spoke at the Oakland Coliseum to be followed by performances of Harry Belafonte and Joan Baez in launching a seven-city concert tour in support of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The linkage of the struggle for civil rights with that of the labor movement and of opposition to the devastating war on Vietnam led Dr. King to march and mobilize on behalf of the sanitation workers on strike in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dr. King announced a Poor People’s Campaign that would culminate in Poor People’s March on Washington with demands for an Economic Bill of Rights guaranteeing employment and a living wage, national economic support for those unable to work and decent housing for all.

He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 as he prepared a march in support of sanitation and other municipal employees.

The Mission Statement of the Million Worker March declares:

“Thirty-six years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. summoned working people across America to a Poor People’s March on Washington to inaugurate “‘a war on poverty at home.’ ‘The United States government,’ he proclaimed, ‘is one of the greatest purveyors of violence in the world. America is at a crossroads in history and it is critically important for us as a nation and society to choose a new path and to move on it with resolution and courage.’

“Working people are under siege while new wars of devastation are launched at the expense of the poor everywhere.

“The Million Worker March will revive and expand a great struggle for fundamental change, as we forge together a social, economic and political movement that will transform America.”