politicalsci: “But if a man doesn’t have a jo…

politicalsci:

“But if a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor
liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely
exists…” 

In 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. had begun to organize the Poor People’s Campaign. It was a multiracial effort aimed at alleviating
poverty regardless of race in order to build the network needed to achieve the goal of redistributing political and economic power. King had shifted his focus to these issues after observing
that gains in civil rights had not improved the material conditions of
life for many African Americans. Just as King was beginning this campaign he was assassinated.

In April 1968 King had answered a call from Memphis activists who
needed him to help energize a sanitation workers’ strike, a cause for
economic justice that would be his last. King aligned with the struggle of the poor and black sanitation workers
in Memphis and suggested that their
struggle for dignity was a dramatization of the issues taken up by the
Poor People’s Campaign—a fight by capable, hard workers against
dehumanization, discrimination and poverty wages in the richest country
in the world.

In his final speech King stated: “Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give
ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic
than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And
when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your
brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we
go down together.“