AFL-CIO King Day events to honor leaders who dared to dream

WASHINGTON —Just days before the inauguration of the most-divisive president-elect in memory, the AFL-CIO’s annual observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and the accompanying federal holiday will “honor leaders who dared to dream for a better today and tomorrow,” the federation’s Civil and Human Rights Department said.

The observance starts with a panel discussion on Jan. 15 on “A civil rights for the future,” after the federation’s civil and human rights awards luncheon.

Speakers include AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President Tefere Gebre, Heather Laverty of the Transport Workers – a member of the federation’s Asian-Pacific Islanders constituency group board – Metropolitan Washington Central Labor Council Executive Director Carlos Jimenez and Courtney Jenkins of the Postal Workers.

Keynoters for the rest of the day include AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and three members of the federation’s commission on race, the criminal justice system and related issues: Gebre, Steelworkers Vice President Fred Redmond – the commission chair – and United Food and Commercial Workers President Marc Perrone.

Perrone and Redmond will receive the federation’s highest civil rights award, while Petee Talley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio AFL-CIO, will receive the division’s “Drum Major for Justice” award for community organizing.

Warren will receive the “Defender of the Dream Award,” named for King’s famous speech at the August 1963 March on Washington. That award honors “a national leader or leaders in recognition of their dedication to advancing social and economic justice for workers and community members,” the fed said. “The recipient of this award has continued to dream in spite of adversity.”

But participants will do more than just talk. They’ll also act, in a full “day of service” on Jan. 16 in D.C., at the Sasha Bruce Youth Network to lift up disadvantaged youth, or at the New Bethel Baptist Church, providing blankets, food, toiletries and resources to the homeless.

“Many of the youth in SBY’s programs are involved in the justice system or have been in the past, making SBY a fitting partner for the AFL-CIO. Unions represent both formerly incar-cerated workers and the workers of the system, which is why the labor movement is committed to ending our nation’s system of mass incarceration and for-profit prisons. AFL-CIO trainers will lead workshops educating the youth on the economic and historical aspects of the criminal justice system, while volunteers perform service projects at their facilities,” the fed said.

United Way liaisons in Houston, Harrisburg, Pa., Syracuse, N.Y., and Green Bay, Wis., are also planning MLK events and outside work, the federation noted. For more information and to register, visit the AFL-CIO website.

Source: PAI