MLK Observance Underway in Philadelphia

(Left to right) IAM Western Territory Grand Lodge Representative Steve Cooper, IAM Local Lodge 837a member Pamela Sanders, and Diane Babineaux, Chief of Staff to the International President, register at the 2013 AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Observance in Philadelphia.

The AFL-CIO’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Observance kicked off today in Philadelphia with the theme “We Are One: Workers’ Rights and Civil Rights – Protecting and Expanding Democracy.”

Diane Babineaux, Chief of Staff to the IAM International President, led a contingent of IAM members to the much-anticipated event, which coincides this year with the Second Inauguration of the United States’ first African-American president, Barack Obama.

“There’s added enthusiasm to this year’s MLK celebration  as we celebrate the life of one of the greatest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and we also bear witness to the fruits of Dr. King’s labor as we welcome President Barack Obama to his second term,” said Babineaux. “It’s a momentous occasion that will be marked with remembrance and fanfare, while recognizing the challenges ahead. There’s still much more work to be done.”

“Forty-five years ago, Martin Luther King Jr., was saying we want a living, and 45 years later, we are still debating the living wage,” said King’s son Martin Luther King III during the National Action Network Annual King Day Luncheon in Washington, DC, earlier this week. “On Monday, when we observe the official holiday and the president is sworn in, it is my hope that we understand — specifically, the Congress — that we must work together to ensure that the president’s vision will become a reality for Americans.”

The conference includes a series of speakers, workshops, a “Save Our Schools/Don’t Cut Services” panel and solidarity rally, and a panel discussion surrounding the newly-released book Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. SNCC stands for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a once prominent group on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. As is tradition, attendees will take part in a day of community service around the city. The conference will conclude with an Inauguration Watch Party.