At the TWU’s 1961 Constitutional Convention, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told our delegates that he drew inspiration in the fight for civil rights from their independence of mind: "I want to say a word about your President, Mike Quill, and some of your other leaders whom I have met. There is a special quality in them which is found in the spirit of this union itself. It is a quality of independence.” He continued, “Your crusading spirit, which broke through the open shop stronghold, also broke through the double walled citadels of race prejudice."
Our union’s work with MLK was born out of our shared commitment to justice, dignity, and equal treatment for all Americans. Every year in January, the TWU honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by taking part in community service projects and engaging with our brothers and sisters from labor unions across the country at the AFL-CIO’s Civil and Human Rights Conference in San Antonio, TX.
“Dr. King was a prolific speaker,” said TWU COPE Political Field Staff Member Terry Daniels. “He talked about how civil rights and labor work hand in hand. We often forget that Dr. King was a part of labor. Right now, we still have many of the same problems in the world today that we did 50 years ago. When we don't work collectively together on issues that support our people, it’s always going to be the same situation that we’re dealing with.”
On January 17, TWU International Staff, local officers, and rank and file members from across the country got their hands dirty cleaning, restoring, and maintaining San Antonio’s Alpha Home, a nonprofit center that provides treatment and support to women struggling with substance abuse.
The Conference culminated in the AFL-CIO's Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Week March of organized labor through San Antonio from Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy to Pittman Sullivan Park. "Dr. King recognized that the fight for civil rights and labor rights are one,” said TWU International Administrative Vice President and civil rights activist John Bland. “A lot of people don't truly understand the 'I Have a Dream' speech. He wasn't just talking about having a fantasy about a future where discrimination and injustice do not exist. He was talking about the necessity of activism and civil disobedience — the struggle to bring that dream into being, to create it in the now. The march was powerful. It was 2.7 miles long, and as far as you could look ahead and backwards, there was a sea of people connected to that vision."