Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Michael Honey Will Visit MSU to Promote New MLK Book on 1968 Memphis Strike


Distinguished labor and civil rights historian Michael Honey will be coming to East Lansing to do two presentations on Monday, October 22. Dr. Honey is the Fred T. and Dorothy G. Haley Professor of the Humanities/Professor of Labor and Ethnic Studies and American History at the University of Washington-Tacoma. He also is President-elect of the Labor and Working-Class History Association.

Dr. Honey's most recent book is GOING DOWN JERICHO ROAD: THE MEMPHIS STRIKE, MARTIN LUTHER KING'S LAST CAMPAIGN (W.W. Norton & Company, 2007). Cornel West of Princeton University noted the book's power and importance: “A magisterial treatment of this neglected period. Michael Honey is to be saluted!” From the publisher's description:

"Memphis in 1968 was ruled by a paternalistic “plantation mentality” embodied in its good-old-boy mayor, Henry Loeb. Wretched conditions, abusive white supervisors, poor education, and low wages locked most black workers into poverty. Then two sanitation workers were chewed up like garbage in the back of a faulty truck, igniting a public employee strike that brought to a boil long-simmering issues of racial injustice."

"With novelistic drama and rich scholarly detail, Michael Honey brings to life the magnetic characters who clashed on the Memphis battlefield: stalwart black workers; fiery black ministers; volatile, young, black-power advocates; idealistic organizers and tough-talking unionists; the first black members of the Memphis city council; the white upper crust who sought to prevent change or conflagration; and, finally, the magisterial Martin Luther King Jr., undertaking a Poor People’s Campaign at the crossroads of his life, vilified as a subversive, hounded by the FBI, and seeing in the working poor of Memphis his hopes for a better America."

Dr. Honey's other books include BLACK WORKERS REMEMBER: AN ORAL HISTORY OF SEGREGATION, UNIONISM AND THE FREEDOM STRUGGLE (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999) which received, among other awards, the Southern Historical Association's H.L. Mitchell Award for southern working-class history.

Also SOUTHERN LABOR AND BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS: ORGANIZING MEMPHIS WORKERS (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), which won the Organization of American Historian's James A. Rawley Prize for history of race relations, the Southern Historical Associations Charles Sydnor Prize for southern history, and the University of Illinois Press' Herbert Gutman Award for social history. Honey is a graduate of Northern Illinois University (Ph.D.), Howard University (M.A.) and Oakland University (B.A.).

Dr. Honey is also known for his cultural work and his work as an activist. He has performed "Links on the Chain," a musical and multi-media presentation of labor and civil rights history, with Pete Seeger and other musicians. A civil rights and civil liberties organizer in the Deep South from 1970-1976, Honey has a long-standing involvement in linking scholarship, music, and public speaking with community and labor organizing.

Dr. Honey will be making two presentations while in East Lansing on October 22:

3 PM - "Martin Luther King's Unfinished Agenda: The Fight for Labor Rights and Economic Justice" - MSU Museum Auditorium.

7:30 PM - "Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign" This book talk and signing will take place at Schuler Books & Music inside the Meridian Mall at 1982 Grand River Ave in Okemos.

Dr. Honey's visit to MSU is co-sponsored by the MSU Department of History; the MSU School of Labor and Industrial Relations; Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives; and the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.

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