Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hotel Voice — January 20, 2014

Above: The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at Local 6 in 1961.

Several months ago our entire country honored the life and accomplishments of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. It was a particularly poignant observance for our Union for reasons that are well known to veteran members but may not be known to newer members.

Dr. King’s campaign for equality was recognized by Local 6 through two separate civil rights awards it bestowed on him, in 1956 and 1961. The Union also provided strong financial support for Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was a leading force in the civil rights movement. In addition, the Hotel Trades Council and Local 6 sent members to Washington, DC for the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. King gave his historic “I have a dream” speech, and the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, which was held shortly after Dr. King’s untimely death.

On both occasions when he appeared in our Union’s auditorium, Dr. King said that the goals of the civil rights movement and the labor movement were identical. It was that strong conviction on his part that led him to be in Memphis when he was assassinated in 1968. He was in that city that fateful day to support striking sanitation workers.

All of us can be proud of our Union’s support for Dr. King and the civil rights movement. We can also be proud of the fact that the Hotel Trades Council was the first union in the country to negotiate a holiday in observance of Reverend King, long before it became a national holiday. And while our nation paid tribute to Dr. King on January 20, the date of this issue of Hotel Voice, we should all remember that the greatest tribute we can pay to his memory is to maintain his dream and continue his work.

Read more about our union's history and the fight for civil rights here: