Tomorrow is Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The day we all celebrate the man who led the civil rights movement and pushed for equality between blacks and whites. He fought against discrimination, injustice, and against poverty. He fought for voting rights, for unions, and for all working people.
The things he fought for and against may seem very different but in truth, they are all connected.
How could blacks in the South effect change in Washington without the ability to vote? How could they make their voices heard on issues facing this country without the ability to vote?
What was the plan to combat poverty? By giving them the chance to form unions and bargain for better wages. How could they ensure pay equity between blacks and whites? Through strong labor agreements that ensured, regardless of the color of their skin, all workers were paid equally for doing the same job.
It is all connected and Dr. King understood better than anyone else.
Now, we have a President-Elect and a Congress that wants to take us back to the 1950s. Together they are working to roll back voting rights, making it harder for people to vote, specifically low-income people of color.
They want to roll back workers rights, making it harder for them to form unions. They push anti-union legislation to repeal workers rights to collectively bargain for wages and benefits. They continue to oppose raising the minimum wage, forcing millions of Americans to work two or three jobs just to survive.
They want to undue all of the progress we have made since Dr. King.
In a few days our nation will inaugurate President Trump, who was whole-heartedly supported by white nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan. The same people that Dr. King fought against before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.
President-elect Trump wants to re-establish legal discrimination but not solely on the color of their skin but by the religion they choose to believe in because it is different than theirs.
Trump campaigned on the idea of creating a Muslim registry to identify all of the Muslims living in the United States, regardless of their citizenship. Hitler did the same thing to the Jews in Europe before putting them into concentration camps. Our own government did the same thing to the Japanese-Americans, before placing them in camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked.
These nationalist hate groups want to do the same thing to the Muslims. History shows us that it all began with a registry.
We are in for some very dark days ahead. The attacks on workers have already begun. The attacks on people of color are still ongoing and getting worse as Trump’s administration takes shape.
As Dr. King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Some of you have seen this hatred before. Some of you may even have the scars to prove it. George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
We must learn from the past, from the teachings of Dr. King and other civil rights activists.
Using the tools that Dr. King showed us over a half-century ago we will stand together, arm-in-arm and refused to be moved. We will fight, together as one, against the hatred and discrimination that is coming down the road.
As Dr. King said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”