Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dr. King’s Legacy: Civil, Labor, and Education Rights:

Ferris State University welcomes retired Civil Rights scholar and labor activist Dr. Roberts Newby to speak on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.

Newby will speak in the Business Building room 111 on Monday, Apr. 4 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The event is designed to connect Dr. Martin Luther King’s commitment to labor and civil rights to the current legislation and budget cuts impacting children’s education and labor in schools.

King was a strong supporter of labor unions and the poor. In 1967 he found the Poor People’s Campaign to support the rights of people of all colors to a living wage. His last campaign was in support of Memphis Sanitation Workers.

FDR and the labor movement forged the New Deal that included the rights of workers to collectively bargain over wages and working conditions. The New Deal became a new social contract. This contract was widened with the Civil Right’s Movement. Conservative groups merged with Reagan’s presidency, opposing both labor and civil rights. What we are witnessing is the re-writing of the social contract, workers without rights. The alternative is to fight back.

Today, in 14 states, state employees’ rights to collectively bargain legally binding contracts are challenged, and budget cuts to public schools will remove opportunities for future students to prepare as qualified employees. State employees unions are the focus of legislation.

Social Science professor Bonnie Wright said “Many of our students at Ferris State University are studying for employment as state employees. This legislation will directly impact their prospective fields next year. It is important that students know what is happening and make informed decisions to either support, modify, or oppose these coming changes.”

The session will begin with labor and civil rights music followed by Newby’s lecture "The New Deal under Attack: Right Wing Tea Party Nationalism and the Undoing of the 20th Century Social Contract." It will end with music and a question, answer and open expression of ideas.

Newby is an emeritus professor at Central Michigan University. Newby earned his B.M.E. from Wichita University in 1961 followed by his M.A. from Wayne State University in 1970 and his Ph. D. from Stanford University in 1974.

This event is free and open to the public sponsored by the Political Engagement Project and the Michigan Education Association.

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