Below is the full text of the statement read by Philip Agnew, which was sent by Arthenia L. Joyner, FL State Senator (D), District 19, in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in support of the UM food workers:
Almost half a century ago, it was a different group of working people, in a different Southern city, all of them on a quest that drove countless groups of people before them and drives each of you here today.And so it’s somehow fitting that as we mark the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, we do so by rallying to support the food court workers at the University of Miami and their struggle to change the miserly wages they’re paid – just as Dr. King did on April 3, 1968, on behalf of sanitation workers in Memphis.
Forty five years ago, on the eve of his death, Dr. King spoke to those workers, all those men underpaid, unappreciated, disrespected, and disavowed the full worth of a human being.
To that sea of tired but determined faces, many of them donning signs defiantly proclaiming: “I am a Man!” he said to them: We are determined to be people. We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we don’t have to live like we are forced to live.”
So today, here in Florida, I say to the workers at the University of Miami, the ones who want nothing more than a fair wage for a fair day’s work and the dignity that comes with that recognition, and to all their supporters: “March on!” Because to tolerate discrimination against one group is to open the door to discrimination against the next, until we are all swept up in second class status we have fought so hard to overcome.
They may try to retaliate against you, they may rail against your cause, they may even curse you, but they cannot ignore you because we will stand with you.
And so, on this 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s death, let us reaffirm his words, let us reaffirm his dream, and let us “rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be.