Today I was discussing with a Professor the psychic wages of constructing the civil rights movement as a spontaneous outpouring against injustice rather than the carefully planned series of organizers campaigns in was, in that the former makes it easier to abrogate one’s responsibility to support the work of organizers for justice today. One of the most incredible of those organizers, then and now, is the Reverened James Lawson, who writes on Labor Day:
Service sector work today is increasingly the province of a caste, of men and women deemed unworthy of basic human rights. It matters not how hard they work nor how valiantly they strive: they are condemned, as are their children and their children’s children, to forever toil in the wilderness. The promise that defined life in America for so many generations and that gave this nation a true “middle class” does not extend to them: work hard, play by the rules, and you will get ahead. But Labor Day is not the time for lamentation over what was or even what is. Let us be inspired, instead, by those who have a vision of what can be and, moreover, are pursuing their vision with strategy and passion. Hotel workers are being arrested in the streets of Los Angeles. They are marching in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. and many other cities in North America. What do they want? You may not yet be aware of it, but a powerful idea has gripped the minds of tens of thousands of these “outcast” service workers, and it will not let them rest. They believe their labor should and can lead to a better life, and they intend to make that happen. After all, Jesus of Nazareth said, “The laborer deserves his wages.” In the last century, the “outcast” workers in low-paid, dead end manufacturing jobs organized unions. They turned those jobs into the foundation of America’s middle class. Today, hotel workers are organizing to redefine the nature of their jobs and open up their opportunities.