Days' events to honor the memory
of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream
D.C., December 28, 2005 – Faith and community groups will be joined by
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. during "Let Justice Roll Living Wage Days" worship
services, rallies and other events being planned for the weekend of his
birthday, January 14-16, 2006.
the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, "Living Wage Days" events are
being organized to inspire, educate and mobilize congregations and
community organizations to support and act for raising the minimum wage
at the federal and state levels.
"Dr. King was fully committed to low wage working people and their
families. There is no better way to celebrate his birthday than to
advocate for a raise in the minimum wage so that, in the words of the
prophet Amos, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like
an ever-flowing stream," said Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, coordinator of the
Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign.
Senator Kennedy, who will participate in a "Living Wage Days" event at
2:30 p.m. on Monday, January 16 at the historic United First Parish
Church Unitarian in Quincy, Mass., has brought to a vote a measure to
increase the current federal minimum wage twice this year. Although the
Fair Minimum Wage Act was defeated, Senator Kennedy plans to continue
pushing his colleagues in Congress to give American workers a raise.
Speaking at a press conference on this issue on Dec. 14, Senator Kennedy
urged Congress to raise the minimum wage in the true spirit of
Christmas. "In this the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works for
a living should have to live in poverty. How can any of us in good
conscience enjoy our own high standard of living, when it is built on
the backs of underpaid workers? Fair wages are not just good policy –
they are a moral obligation," he said standing in the shadow of the
Capitol Christmas tree.
In addition to the event in Quincy, Mass. on Jan. 16, numerous similar
events are being planned around the country that focus on the plight of
low-wage workers and the need to raise the minimum wage, something that
was a real concern for Dr. King.
"There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying
an adequate wage to every American [worker] whether he is a hospital
worker, laundry worker, maid, or day laborer," King said more than 35
years ago in his book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community."
Recent data compiled by members of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage
Campaign shows this lack of social vision continues and is even more
tragic. Today the real value of the minimum wage is more than $3.50
below what it was in 1968. Since the last increase in the minimum wage
in 1997, the value has eroded by more than 15 percent. To have the
purchasing power it had in 1968, the year that King was assassinated,
the minimum wage would have to be $9.09 an hour today, not $5.15.
According to Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National
Council of Churches USA, one of the sponsors of the Let Justice Roll
Living Wage Campaign, "A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep
you in it. Full-time minimum wage workers earn $10,700 a year, which is
about $5,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. This is a
moral outrage," said Edgar, who will also participate in the Quincy,
Mass. event on Jan. 16.
"In 1967, Dr. King called for 'the total, direct and immediate abolition
of poverty.' This cannot be done without increasing the minimum wage.
Unfortunately, the urgency of now was yesterday and we must make raising
the minimum wage a priority," he said.
The Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, which is comprised of more
than 50 faith and community based organizations, is working on the
national level as well as in a number of states including Ohio,
Michigan, Arizona, West Virginia and Arkansas to support and advocate
for minimum wage increases.
Additional information about the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign
can be found online at
www.letjusticeroll.org, including the availability of multiple
resources for “Living Wage Days” events.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Participants in the Jan. 16 "Living Wage Days" event
in Quincy, Mass. will be available to the media for interviews. More
detailed information about this event and press availability is
forthcoming. Media can contact Leslie Tune at 202-544-2350, or Philip
Jenks at 212-870-2252 with questions or to set up interviews.
Contact NCC News: Leslie Tune,
202-544-2350; Philip E. Jenks,