Quotes of the Day: Martin Luther King & Kaleem Caire

If you will judge anything here in this struggle, you’re commanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the worth and significance of those who are not in professional jobs, or those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight, that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity, and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity, and it has worth. One day our society must come to see this. One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive. For the person who picks up our garbage, in the final analysis, is as significant as the physician. All labor has worth.

You are doing another thing. You are reminding, not only Memphis, but you are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages. I need not remind you that this is the plight of our people all over America. The vast majority of Negroes in our country are still perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. My friends, we are living as a people in a literal depression. Now you know when there is vast unemployment and underemployment in the black community, they call it a social problem. When there is vast unemployment and underemployment in the white community they call it a depression. But we find ourselves living in a literal depression all over this country as a people.

Now the problem isn’t only unemployment. Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working everyday? They are making wages so low that they can not begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen. And it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income.

Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. 

defending rights of sanitation workers to unionize and receive decent wages Memphis, TN, March 18, 1968

“A janitor is a janitor.”

Kaleem Caire,

defending the use of non-union custodial staff at the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy in order to save money.Madison, WI, October 2011

An updated “Business Plan” and other documents have been posted on the MMSD site (scroll down).  The Urban League of Greater Madison, MTI, AFSCME and MMSD are meeting Monday, 10/31 to discuss union and workplace issues.

In light of state  state statutes, which read: ” If the school board determines that the charter school is an instrumentality of the school district, the school board shall employ all personnel for the charter school” and existing contracts, I am still not clear how these can be at issue if Madison Prep is to be an instrumentality.

Thomas J. Mertz

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3 Comments

Filed under Accountability, Best Practices, Budget, Contracts, education, Gimme Some Truth, Local News

3 responses to “Quotes of the Day: Martin Luther King & Kaleem Caire

  1. Jane Jiumaleh

    I was so impressed by the two Memphis sanitation workers that came to Madison with Jesse Jackson on April 1 to speak to the Wisconsin protestors, that I wanted to return the favor by driving my son to Memphis this summer and taking him to the Civil RIghts museum. The story of the strike is illustrated at the end of the museum tour just before you see the room in the Loraine Motel where MLK Jr. spent his last night on earth. My son saw the history in the museum and the two actual participants on the Capitol Square where workers like his mom are fighting for their rights. This has been a lesson in the dignity of work and the righteousness of the struggle for workers rights for him.

    Why did the Memphis sanitation workers come all the way to Madison to speak on a very cold April Fools Day if they weren’t upholding worker rights and dignity? And why was Mahlon Mitchell leading his firefighters with their pipes and drums into the Capitol building every day if not on behalf of worker solidarity? Anyone who was in Madison the last nine months and didn’t learn these lessons wasn’t paying attention.

  2. janeofdane

    (I’d like to add something to my previous comment.)

    Why did the Memphis sanitation workers come all the way to Madison to speak on a very cold April Fools Day if they weren’t upholding worker rights and dignity? And why was Mahlon Mitchell leading his firefighters with their pipes and drums into the Capitol building every day if not on behalf of worker solidarity? Anyone who was in Madison the last nine months and didn’t learn these lessons wasn’t paying attention.

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