In an action that already feels like ancient history, Congress voted earlier this month to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” While much remains to be settled, the revenue side of the issue got resolved because 84 House Republicans joined 172 Democrats to support the solution negotiated between the President and the Senate. In some ways, such bipartisanship was a moment of déjà vu from a time, nearly 50 years ago, when two pivotal civil rights bills were being considered. Then, Lyndon Johnson was President and both houses of Congress were in the hands of Democrats. Martin Luther King was in the streets. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was registering voters. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were passed by Republicans joining Democrats to move the President’s legislation into law.
In both circumstances – today, as then – it was one party’s Southern flank that refused to go along with its leadership.
Forty-five years after his death, Martin Luther King’s vision of racial and economic progress continues to exert a powerful influence on our society. In this video, Marilyn, a young African-American electrician apprentice, reflects on MLK’s legacy and how construction work and access to a good career has radically improved her life. Construction gives Marilyn not only socioeconomic mobility, but also an intellectual and physical challenge.
“From the Ground Up” is a series of videos profiling diverse individuals within the construction trades, ranging from veterans to women to former convicts to youth of different incomes and ethnicities.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to all! Please enjoy the video and share it with friends.
Today Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as something of an American saint. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. Americans from across the political spectrum invoke King’s name to justify their beliefs and actions, as President Barack Obama will no doubt do in his second Inaugural speech and as gun fanatic Larry Ward recently did in outrageously claiming that King would have opposed proposals to restrict access to guns.
So it is easy to forget that in his day, in his own country, King was considered a dangerous troublemaker. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media.
In fact, King was radical. He believed that America needed a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” He challenged America’s class system and its racial caste system. He was a strong ally of the nation’s labor union movement. He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis,