Dr. King’s Legacy Lives On at Local 1000


In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s lifelong effort to empower African-Americans and combat economic injustice wherever it reared its head led him to launch the Poor People’s Campaign. Over 50 years later, as our country continues to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic while still struggling to come to grips with a system mired in and still enriched by racism, his multiracial campaign to stamp out poverty resonates louder and stronger than ever.

As the inheritors of his struggle, we find ourselves in the midst of what seem to be our own unique challenges, but in reality directly echo the evils Dr. King Jr. first fought against a lifetime ago. In a nod to this great leader, today SEIU Local 1000 works alongside Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, one of the national co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign, to uplift and support Dr. King’s clarion call for social and economic justice.

“Dr. King said it then and it’s still true today, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And it’s especially true today when 55% of Californians are poor or low-income,” Rev. Barber said at an SEIU Local 1000 event.

Remembering Dr. King’s message today means placing ourselves in the same struggle and matching the moral core of his work with our own. Our union values reflect the same demands for a fair and just life free from the oppressive forces of racism, poverty and militarism. “If we are to honor Dr. King, we must be clear about who he was,” said Rev. Barber. “Because the best way to distort and destroy the legacy of a prophet is to reenvision them as either perfect or popular.”

Just one week out from a violent, racist coup attempt on our democracy, we would all do well to not just remember the most critical voice against these forces in American society, but to carry that struggle a little further along in our daily lives.  

As Rev. Barber said, “Truth is, you don’t honor prophets with celebrations. You honor prophets by going to where they died, picking up what they were working on, and carrying it the next mile of the way.”