UWT professor Michael Honey publishes new book

April 4 saw the release of Dr. Mi­chael Honey’s newest book: “To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice.” Honey is currently the Fred and Dor­othy Haley Professor of Humanities — an endowed professorship meant to uphold UWT’s humanities cur­riculum — and has taught labor, eth­nic, and gender studies, American history, and Martin Luther King and nonviolence studies at UW Tacoma since 1990.

The release of the book on April 4 marked exactly 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Honey also held a lecture May 1 — significant to the labor movement as May Day or International Workers’ Day — in William W. Philip Hall.

Honey explained that “To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice” is a shorter and more accessible vol­ume — at about 200 pages — which helps readers understand how King’s message of economic justice applies to the present.

“If you are suffering from heavy debt because of student loans, high rents and housing prices, police brutal­ity, low wages, racism, sexism and mi­sogyny, America’s forever wars all over the planet and its misplaced priorities, then you are among the people Dr. King sought to liberate,” Honey said.

The inspiration for Honey’s new book came from his personal back­ground with King and the Civil Rights Movement. Honey said that King in­spired him to become a conscientious objector and then a civil liberties or­ganizer for six years in the South.

Honey served as the Southern di­rector of the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation in Memphis. He then attended Howard University and studied African-Amer­ican history.

“It seemed to me the biggest road­block to freedom was that white work­ers and ‘white’ people generally sided with employers and politicians who wanted to divide us in order to exploit our labor,” Honey said. “I wanted to find examples of places where black and white workers had organized to­gether to overcome, and I picked Memphis as a case study.”

Honey believes economic justice was an important aspect to King’s mes­sage — especially the connection be­tween racism, poverty, and war and his emphasis of nonviolence. King was in Memphis for the Memphis Sanita­tion Workers’ Strike the day before he was killed.

“Beyond civil rights, King sought a peaceful revolution by which all of us, all of us, would have decent jobs, income, housing, education and health care,” Honey said. “His legacy touches on all those areas as they af­fect us today.”

“Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, King’s Last Cam­paign” was published by Honey in 2007 and is about King’s economic message and the Memphis Strike. This title received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award — a prestigious annual award recognizing books reflecting Robert F. Kennedy’s social justice val­ues — along with four other awards and recognitions.

Honey saw the need for new schol­arship on King’s economic message for today’s audience.

“There is always more to learn, and King’s message of hope for a better world is something we can all con­tinue to benefit and learn from,” Honey said.

PHOTO BY MARY FITZGERALD
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