Labor Education Service staff members Sharice McCain and Barb Kucera coordinated a program of readings and music on May 21 at the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul.
Titled "All Labor Has Dignity," the centerpiece of the program was the reenactment of a speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to the 1962 convention of the United Packinghouse Workers Union in Minneapolis.
Harry Waters, Jr., a Macalester College professor and professional actor, evoked the spirit of King in giving the speech, which drew connections between the labor and civil rights movements and warned of the changes that automation would bring to the workplace.
Several union members read from the oral histories of Minnesota workers, an essay by labor leader Bayard Rustin and poems by Frances Harper and Langston Hughes. McCain performed spirituals and freedom songs, including "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round."
The program was part of the annual "Untold Stories" labor history series sponsored by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and planned by a number of organizations, including the Labor Education Service. All events are free and open to the public.
Photos courtesy of Allen Meeks.