Martin Luther King Jr. & The Fight For Union Rights

By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

April 4, 2011 Updated Oct 23, 2013 at 6:18 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) -- "He gave his life fighting for the working man. It's just unconscionable that we're here today, fighting for the same thing," said Roanoke Resident Dave Altman.

Altman is a member of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

"We Are One", that was the rallying cry across the nation Monday, as April 4, 2011, marked the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In Fort Wayne, the "We Are One" rally was led by the Northeast Indiana Central Labor Council.

The rally was held Monday evening at Headwaters Park.

Nearly 100 people attended the rally, which was sheltered from the rain, by a pavilion.

Meanwhile, the event honored Dr. King, who was gunned down on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 at 6:01 p.m.

When Dr. King was assassinated, he was in Memphis fighting for the union rights of underpaid African-American garbage workers.

Local civil rights, labor rights, and community leaders rallied in downtown Fort Wayne Monday, because they believe the same fight still continues today.

Those sentiments were echoed when the following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted was recited, "all labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance, and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

Others explained that it is a constant struggle to get dignity and respect for working people.

"I feel that it's too bad that we're still fighting for those same things but we're doing that because we're inspired by his work, back in the 60's," said Auburn Resident Rachel Bennett Steury.

"We'll continue to do so until everyone has equal rights and equal treatment and we're all living together in harmony," said Steury, who is affiliated with the Northeast Indiana Central Labor Council, and the Unemployed and Anxiously Employed Workers Initiative.

Union workers said the whole matter is an attack on the middle-class and a case of discrimination by wealth.

They believe lawmakers across the nation are trying to create two classes, the rich and the poor.

Meanwhile, attendees cheered in agreement that Dr. King is still an inspiration.

However, some union members warned that if history is forgotten, it will be repeated.

No future rallies have been scheduled.

However, leaders said they have rallied at the Indiana Statehouse a few times this year.

Leaders said if the need arises, they will rally again in Indianapolis, for collective bargaining rights.

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