For Labor Day, Another Speech from the March on Washington:
We remember some speeches from that day in August 1963, like John Lewis's radical one and, you know, "I Have a Dream." For this Labor Day, with Detroit dying block by block, here's another one from the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice by Walter Reuther, the then-president of the United Auto Workers. Reuther made explicit the connection between economic justice and civil rights. Would that we had such articulate, tough bastards leading workers today:
"The job question is crucial because we will not solve the problems of education or housing, or public accommodations as long as millions of American Negroes are treated as second class economic citizens.
"As one American I take the position, if we can have full employment and full production for the negative ends of war, then why can’t we have a job for every American, seeking the pursuit of peace.
"And so our slogan has got to be “fair employment” – but fair employment within the framework of full employment so that every American can have a job.
"I am for civil rights as a matter of human decency, as a matter of common morality. But, I am also for civil rights because I believe that freedom is an indivisible value; that no one can be free unto himself. And when 'Bull' Connor with his police dogs and fire hoses destroys freedom in Birmingham, he is destroying my freedom in Detroit.
"Let us keep in mind since we are the strongest of the free nations of the world, since we cannot make our freedom secure excepting as we make freedom universal so all may enjoy its blessings, let us understand that we cannot defend freedom in Berlin so long as we deny freedom in Birmingham.
"This rally is not the end, it’s the beginning. It’s the beginning of a great moral crusade to arouse Americans to the unfinished work of democracy.
"The Congress has to act, and after they act, we have much work to do in the vineyards of modern democracy in every community. Men of good will must join together. Men of all races, creed and color and persuasion are motivated by the spirit of human brotherhood. We must search for answers in the light of reason through rational and responsible action. Because if we fail, the vacuum of our failure will be filled by the apostles of hatred, who will search in the dark of night, and reason will yield to riot, and brotherhood will yield to bitterness and bloodshed, and we will tear asunder the fabric of our American democracy."