cover image To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice

To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice

Michael K. Honey. Norton, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-65126-3

Labor historian Honey (Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, King’s Last Campaign) emphasizes Martin Luther King Jr.’s attempts to build bridges between civil rights organizations and labor unions in this concise but richly detailed work about King’s attempts to bring about economic justice for all Americans. Frustrated initially because opportunities for well-paid work were so limited for black Americans, King came to see that innovations such as automation threatened the livelihoods of workers of all races, and that the social programs of the Johnson era were being “shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam.” In his Poor People’s Campaign, organized in the last year of his life, King aimed to unite low-income Americans across lines of race and ethnicity to demand that politicians provide them with improved housing, education, and employment opportunities; without these resources, King claimed, poor men and women could not enjoy the full benefits of the nation’s ideals of freedom. Honey argues that King’s call for the nation’s economic restructuring and “a true revolution of values” was not answered in his lifetime, nor in the half a century since his assassination; however, in positioning King as a radical economic reformer, Honey encourages the many who revere his memory to continue his work toward this goal. His book contains both insight and inspiration to activists of many stripes. (Apr.)