• AFL-CIO chooses life, resolves to organize the South

    America’s unions resolve to develop a new Southern Organizing Strategy.

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  • Workers Who Win the South Change the Nation

    MaryBe McMillan, Sec-Treas, NC AFL-CIO

    “I believe that workers can change the South and, by doing so, change the country. If only I could get the leaders of the union movement to believe it, too.”

    By MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer

    Forty-seven years after the 1963 March on Washington, the union movement and our allies are preparing for our own march in October. Under the banner of One Nation Working Together, union members, civil rights activists and other concerned citizens will rally in support of good jobs, a quality education for every child, immigration reform and workers’ freedom to form a union. Our rallying cry is that we must reverse the dangerous trend toward greater income inequality and finally create an economy that works for all.

    To achieve that goal and to become a truly united nation working together, leaders of the One Nation coalition partners—particularly our nation’s labor leaders—could learn a valuable lesson from that earlier march on Washington: The road to justice and equality must go through the South.

    During the 1963 march, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently illustrated this point when he said:

    “Let freedom ring from the mountains of New York…Pennsylvania….Colorado….California. But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia….from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee….from every hill and molehill of Mississippi….let freedom ring.”

    Civil rights leaders knew the only way to win freedom for people of color everywhere was to win it first in the most difficult place—the segregated South. That’s why community activists boycotted buses in Montgomery, college students staged sit-ins in Greensboro and sanitation workers walked out in Memphis. Dr. King and other leaders understood that if they could change policies in the heart of Jim Crow, then they could change laws nationally. And they did.

    More than four decades later, national labor leaders should heed Dr. King’s prophetic words. If we want to strengthen the rights of workers everywhere, then we must organize workers in the South.

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