For more than 25 years, the AFL-CIO’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observance has brought together more than 500 trade unionists annually to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, perform community service, and examine current civil and human rights issues.
This event reinforces the historic bond between the labor and civil rights movements, honors Dr. King’s vision on the importance of collective action—whether at the voting booth or at the workplace—and mobilizes participants to continue their work to make Dr. King’s dream a reality.
After Congress passed legislation creating a federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an effort in which the AFL-CIO played a key role, the AFL-CIO formed a labor committee to find a way to honor the holiday and birthday of Dr. King. At the outset, the AFL-CIO worked in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta to organize an annual observance in the city. Starting in 1998, the annual observance has been held in different cities each year.
The theme of the January 2023 conference is “Claiming our Power, Protecting Our Democracy.”
Our democracy is in a state of emergency. Across the country, extremist politicians, far-right judges and corrupt corporate interests have aligned to take away the rights of workers. They are moving to strip us of our fundamental freedoms including the freedom to vote and to collectively bargain for a voice on the job.
The labor movement has always been a force for progress and we will continue that legacy by standing in our power and fighting back against these attacks. We will step into the year with purpose and make it clear that working people will determine the direction of this country.
Together, we will build an economy and a society that works for everyone and ensures that all workers, no matter who they are, can live a life of dignity and respect.
Below is the list of cities that have hosted the Dr. King holiday observance since 1998:
|1998 Memphis, Tenn.||1999 Birmingham, Ala.||2000 Atlanta|
|2001 Greensboro, N.C.||2002 Miami||2003 Jackson, Miss.|
|2004 Orlando, Fla.||2005 Los Angeles||2006 Baton Rouge, La.|
|2007 Houston||2008 Memphis, Tenn.||2009 New Orleans|
|2010 Greensboro, N.C.||2011 Cincinnati||2012 Detroit|
|2013 Philadelphia||2014 San Antonio||2015 Atlanta|
|2016 Washington, D.C.||2017 Washington, D.C.||2018 Houston|
|2019 Washington, D.C.||2020 Washington, D.C.||2021 Virtual|
|2022 Virtual||2023 Washington, D.C.|