Memphis workers honour Martin Luther King

This video from the USA in 2011 is called Memphis memorial march for Martin Luther King 1968.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Memphis workers march 45 years on to honour King

Thursday 04 April 2013

by Our Foreign Desk

Memphis sanitation workers joined a march today to honour Martin Luther King on the anniversary of his death there at the hands of gunman James Earl Ray.

King was shot dead while on a visit to the Tennessee city to defend the rights of striking sanitation workers to trade union organisation, safe working conditions and decent wages.

Forty-five years after he was killed supporting their historic strike, some of the same men who marched with him still pick up Memphis rubbish.

King‘s assassination led to riots, but the strike turned to victory when the city agreed a 10-cent hourly rise and other demands, including unionisation.

But now the workers are fighting again to hold onto jobs that council bosses want to hand over to a private company.

“It looks like they’re trying to take us down again,” said 81-year-old Elmore Nickleberry, one of the original strikers who still drives a dustcart at night.

City council members say the city can’t ignore savings of $8 million (£5.3m) to $15m (£9.9m) and pressure for privatisation began two years ago.

Officials have been slashing costs in the department.

It currently has 124 unfilled positions out of 619 jobs, resulting in $5m (£3.3m) in savings.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local organiser Chad Johnson aims to preserve jobs while also shedding light on department problems.

These include an aging lorry fleet, poor training, insufficient retirement benefits and, once again, problems with safety.

“Unfortunately, 45 years later, I have to say we haven’t made much progress,” said Johnson.

“We’re still talking about sanitation employees being treated poorly by management, by the citizenry, by the city council and by the administration.”

For now, the future of the city’s sanitation workers is in limbo. Such uncertainty concerns Mr Nickleberry.

“They’re trying to take everything King did for us, they’re trying to take it all back,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right.”

15 thoughts on “Memphis workers honour Martin Luther King

    • I read about a 81-year old still working in sanitation (for as long as the privatisation plan will not be implemented, and he might be sacked). I wonder how voluntary that is? Or is it because the pension situation for (ex-)sanitation workers is so bad that they have no choice?


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  3. July 22, 2013

    Watch the full interview with Dr. Cornel West on Democracy Now! at Civil rights groups are gearing up for next month’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to one of the largest political gatherings in U.S. history. Dr. West shares what he would say to the anniversary gathering if he had been invited to speak. “I would say we must never tame Martin Luther King Jr. or Fannie Lou Hamer or Ella Baker or Stokely Carmichael,” Dr. West. “We are going to focus on poor people, working people across the board.”

    Dr. West continues: “[Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] would not be invited to the very march in his name, because he would talk about drones, he’d talk about Wall Street criminality, he would talk about working class being pushed to the margins as profits went up for corporate executives and their compensation, he would talk about the legacies of white supremacy. Do you think anyone at that march would talk about drones, and the drone president? Or do you think anyone at that march would talk about the connection to Wall Street?”


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  11. Thursday 6th April 2017

    posted by Morning Star in World

    BLACK Lives Matter and Fight for $15 activists marked the 49th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s murder on Tuesday by leading a march in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Hundreds of supporters of the two campaigns drew attention to causes backed by King which remain unfulfilled today, demanding higher wages and equal rights as they walked from Memphis City Hall to the National Civil Rights Museum.

    The museum is at the site of the former Lorraine Motel where King was shot dead on April 4 1968, in the midst of his Poor People’s Campaign, when he went to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers seeking better pay, safer working conditions and trade union rights.

    Led by a 220-piece band from Talladega College in Alabama, marchers chanted: “This is what democracy looks like.” Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Show Me $15. Real Change. No Pennies.”

    Rallies also took place in Florida, California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan.


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