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In Winston-Salem, city workers echo MLK's call for justice

By
Catherine Medlock-Walton

“We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 4, 1968, an assassin's bullet stole the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. away from us.

As we prepare to commemorate the great man’s life 50 years on, it is right that we recall the two great struggles that brought him to Memphis on that fateful day: the struggle for civil rights and the struggle for economic justice.

As King spoke to the Memphis sanitation workers, supporting their strike for workplace safety and equal treatment of black workers, he declared, “You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor.”

Over these coming weeks, we will be making the same declaration —that the city of Winston-Salem examine itself and the poverty that exists within its boundaries.

To our shame, that poverty even exists among the very people who work to make our city run. Right now, there are people who work for the city of Winston-Salem who are barely getting by. Where is the justice in that?

Working people are the economic engine of our region. Building a thriving local economy that works for everyone in Winston-Salem starts with making sure people are bringing home enough with each paycheck to cover their basic expenses. We are all better off when we have enough money in our pockets to cover our bills and spend at local businesses.

King once remarked, “What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger?”

But 50 years after King’s assassination, too many people in our community still can’t afford basic necessities. We must all play our part in order to make a change, and that includes the city of Winston-Salem.

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