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Labor Movement

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

Following the 1955 merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), the AFL-CIO became an ally of civil rights organizations. Martin Luther King spoke of the shared goals of the civil rights and labor movements, noting in his 1961 address to the fourth AFL-CIO national convention that both African Americans and union members were fighting for “decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community” (King, 11 December 1961).

Brown, Theodore Edward

As a champion of the black labor movement, Ted Brown worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr., throughout the civil rights movement. The two men became particularly close when Brown became president of the American Negro Leadership Conference on Africa in 1962. Throughout the 1960s, Brown and King collaborated on projects supporting African liberation struggles and an end to apartheid in South Africa.

From Stanley D. Levison

Levison reports on the progress of the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South, a legal defense group formed in response to King's Alabama perjury indictment.1 He also decries the recent statement of Thurgood Marshall, head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, that “the first stage of demonstrations should be ended” in favor of courtroom challenges.

Dear Martin,

"I've Been to the Mountaintop," Address Delivered at Bishop Charles Mason Temple

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. [Laughter] It's always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you, and Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world.

"A Look to the Future," Address Delivered at Highlander Folk School's Twenty-fifth Anniversary Meeting

In a 19 April letter, Highlander director Myles Horton requested that King give the closing address at the leadership training school's anniversary seminar, “The South Thinking Ahead.”1 The conference included workshops on the implications of integration for religious groups, educators, trade unions, and community organizations. Among the 179 persons present were Tallahassee civil rights leader C. K.

"The Negro is Part of That Huge Community Who Seek New Freedom in Every Area of Life"

In this interview from Challenge, a publication of the Young Peoples Socialist League, King responds to questions regarding the broader implications of the civil rights struggle.1 He argues that “complete political, economic and social equality” requires “a whole series of measures which go beyond the specific issue of segregation” and explains that the success of this struggle will depend on the realization of a “gigantic and integrated alliance of the progressive social forces in the United Sta


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