AFSCME's Glen Middleton says that young people are keeping Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for workers’ rights and equality alive.
(American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees interns from left to right: James Jones, Chelle Lewis and India Simms. Photo: Danielle Wright/BET)
For Glen Middleton, fighting for the rights of working people is something that’s in his nature. As the vice president for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Middleton believes that all workers should be treated fairly by their employers.
His participation in the March for Jobs and Justice, headed by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network among other civil rights leaders, therefore, to him, was a no-brainer. He helped to organize four busloads of people from Baltimore, Maryland, to attend the rally.
“We brought out all types of workers because Dr. Martin Luther King, over 40 years ago, fought for these workers’ rights. We brought out sanitation workers, we brought out healthcare workers, we brought out transportation workers, we brought out school board employees and more,” he told BET.com.
It attendance with his two friends of more than 50 years, both of whom fought in Vietnam and have attended all major rallies with him for decades, Middleton thought that it was also important to bring out some other very important people to him: his interns.
“This is all a part of what Dr. King taught. We have to raise these young people up to be a part of the community. These young people are our future. They are our vision for tomorrow and we want to continue to bring them out and get them involved,” he says.
His three current interns, India Simms, Chelle Lewis and James Jones, are all currently college students, and they believe that they are the next generation of civil rights leaders.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. King, we wouldn’t have the right to go to college right now and I’m happy that we can keep his dream alive,” says Lewis.
“I’ve been inspired by Dr. King’s ability to get people to stick together and stand as one, and that’s part of the reason why I’m here,” says Jones.
At one point in his life, Jones had dropped out of school, but with the help of the union and self-determination, James has received his G.E.D. He is currently a college student himself, and hopes to one day inspire others that they can do anything they put their mind to, similar to the message of Martin Luther King Jr.
And, even though they may not need a full-time job right now, the students are hopeful that the job economy will turn around by the time they graduate.
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