Dwight "DJ" Frederick is an Eligibility Services Workers at the State Department of Social Serices. A member of the AFSCME Local 714 Executive Board, DJ has volunteered for AFL-CIO weekend Labor Walks and phone banks. He reflects on the reasons behind his political engagement:
To understand the reason why I decided to participate in the AFL-CIO Labor Walks, we would need to go back to April 5, 1968.
It was the day I realized that there was a Man leading his people in a fight for social justice and economic equality. I was just a young boy arriving at my elementary school in Hartford, CT when I noticed that there was unusually agitation in the school yard.
When I asked a friend what was going on he replied, “They killed Martin Luther King!” I asked, “Who is Martin Luther King?” My young classmate replied, “The leader of the Black people!”
All my adult life I have been actively and progressively involved in organizations in support of others. Over the years I have found it very frustrating when individuals volunteer to join an organization and serve in “name only” or as a “card carrying” member.
Many of our members are not old enough to have experienced the struggles and sacrifices of the 50’s, 60s and 70s. Consequently, they are out of touch with the reality of separatism and unequal rights that was so pervasive in our society.
I find the rights and freedoms which come so natural today have fostered a culture of entitlement and apathy. And, sadly, I feel that those who choose not to actively support those who would champion our cause are indifferent to all we have to lose.
So, when I am asked why I chose to partake in the labor walk, it is because so many have done so before me. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met his demise on April 4, 1968 as he prepared to lead a march in support of job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition for the sanitation workers of Memphis Tennessee.
He chose to speak despite the threat of imprisonment. He chose to march despite the threat of assassination. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t just talk the talk! He walked the walk!