Race and Labor in Memphis since the King Assassination

Michael K. Honey and David H. Ciscel

in Life and Labor in the New New South

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780813037950
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043111 | DOI:
Race and Labor in Memphis since the King Assassination

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Since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the successful sanitation workers' strike in Memphis in 1968, economic progress for the city's African Americans has been sporadic, uncertain, and disappointing. Globalization and the collapse of unionized manufacturing jobs all but eliminated a traditional source of relatively high-wage employment for non-skilled workers. The low-wage service sector, with its patterns of temporary and intermittent employment, has trapped African Americans in economic insecurity and powerlessness. At the same time, the collapse of the labor movement has crippled a once-potent agent of positive change. Although African Americans have made great strides in gaining political power, King's hopes that the civil rights gains of the 1960s would pave the way for a more egalitarian society remain unfulfilled. Unionization of the city's growing sectors of transportation, health care, and service industries would go a long way toward fulfilling King's 1968 call for economic equality.

Keywords: Memphis; Martin Luther King Jr; African American workers; Unions; service sector employment

Chapter.  9850 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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