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Martin Luther King's Last Campaign for Equality

Apr 4, 2008 (Fresh Air)

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Although many people know that Martin Luther King Jr. died in Memphis, many don't know that King had come to the city on behalf of black sanitation workers who were striking for the right to unionize. The strikers and their supporters turned Memphis upside down for 65 days in the winter of 1968.

King saw his work in Memphis as part of a new direction in the civil rights movement, emphasizing economic equality.

"We know that it isn't enough to integrate lunch counters," King told a crowd at Mason Temple in March 1968. "What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?"

Historian Michael Honey joins Fresh Air to discuss King's involvement in the Memphis labor campaign, which he covered in his book, Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign.

Honey is a former civil liberties organizer and a professor of ethics, gender and labor studies and American history at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

This broadcast originally aired on January 15, 2007.

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