On April 4, 2018, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Jewish Labor Committee will hold a Kosher, National Faith-Labor Leadership Passover Seder at the very meeting place where Dr. King and the Memphis sanitation workers gathered to secure the right to organize and bargain collectively, at 7:15 p.m. at Clayborn Temple, 294 Hernando St., Memphis, Tenn.
This year, the Jewish holiday of Passover falls at the same time as the anniversary of Dr. King, Jr.’s death. The Passover imagery and themes of the Exodus often imbued Dr. King, Jr.’s words. The JLC, with AFSCME and the I AM 2018 coalition, will host an interfaith Kosher Seder, combining the traditional celebration of Passover with a rededication to the work, the words, and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fifty years ago, Dr. King, Jr. traveled to Memphis to lend his voice to the city sanitation workers’ growing “I AM A MAN” strike, which began after two workers were crushed to death by faulty equipment. Dr. King, Jr. went to meet with strikers for a march on April 8, 1968 at the, Clayborn Temple at Hernando Street in Memphis, where the JLC Seder will be held.
The night before Dr. King, Jr.’s death, he told an overflow crowd at nearby Mason Temple that if he could travel through history, “I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt…across the Red Sea, through the wilderness, on toward the Promised Land.” Dr. King, Jr. also noted, that, like Moses, “I may not get there with you.” Dr. King, Jr. had already accepted an invitation for less than two weeks later to celebrate that Passover with the renowned rabbi and civil rights advocate Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
An hour after what is known as the “6:01” ceremony at the Lorraine Motel, denoting the felling of Dr. King, Jr. by an assassin’s bullet, the JLC, with AFSCME and the I AM 2018 coalition (iam2018.org), will host an interfaith kosher Seder, combining the observance of Passover with a rededication to the work, the words, and the legacy of Dr. King, Jr.