MLK, Jr. & the UAW (& me)

A friend and colleague in the National Writers Union, Local 1981 of the UAW, forwarded this link on Walter Reuther and Martin Luther King, Jr. from the UAW website. The article quotes my old friend Steve Babson, at Wayne State U., in Detroit, and describes how Reuther mobilized union resources to support King in a test-run for the 1963 March on Washington.

About this time, it must have been just a few months before the Washington march, I met Reuther. I was dating a girl from Boston whose parents were friends (and I think financial supporters) of his, and he dropped by their apartment one evening when I also happened to be there. I was a Harvard senior, studied in nonchalance, and also president of the Harvard Socialist Club, inclined to dismiss a "labor bureaucrat" like Reuther as a mere "liberal." Prematurely jaded though I was, he really impressed me. He was a man who transmitted energy and gave the impression that he was intensely interested in knowing you. (I had a similar impression when I got into a nose-to-nose chat with Hugo Chávez last year. Am I just impressionable? No, I think there is something to the notion of "charisma," and it has to do with that keen, energetic focus.)

Check out the National Writers Union. To find out how I happened to be chatting with Chávez, take a look at a note predating this weblog.