Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Washington to demand a $15 an hour minimum wage, a commitment to economic justice that you can honor by joining the $15 minimum wage contingent of Monday's annual MLK Day march in Seattle. Join the MLK Day rally at Garfield High School at 11 am, and then meet up with $15 minimum wage supporters across the street in front of Ezell's at 11:45 am, before marching to Westlake Park.
Organizers urge you to wear red $15/hr t-shirts. Working Washington and 15now.org are also hosting a workshop on the $15/hr movement at Garfield from 9-11:30 am.
While 1963's "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" is largely remembered for King's iconic "I Have a Dream" speech, his was the tenth of ten speeches, many of which focused on the organizers economic demands. As I wrote back in August:
[W]hile King strayed from his prepared text to focus mostly on freedom, nearly half of the ten demands (pdf) specifically articulated by King and the rest of the march's organizers were economic, including massive public works and job training programs for the unemployed, a federal law prohibiting discrimination in public and private hiring, a broadening of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and "a national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living."
"Government surveys show that anything less than $2.00 an hour fails to do this," the organizers duly noted back in 1963.
Adjusted for inflation, $2.00 in 1963 dollars would be worth $15.27 today. And so in a very real historical sense, one of the core demands underlying King's famous "I Have a Dream Speech," was a $15 an hour minimum wage. It is a dream that has remained unfulfilled to this day.
So yeah, 50 years later, the $15 minimum wage campaign really does honor King's legacy. Come and show your support on Monday.