Fifty years ago today, Memphis sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker were crushed to death in the back of their truck. City rules forbade black employees from seeking shelter from the rain anywhere but in the back of their compressor trucks, with the garbage. Their horrible, unnecessary deaths sparked a citywide strike, a historic struggle for justice and respect that brought Martin Luther King to Memphis, where he marched with striking sanitation workers carrying the famous “I Am A Man” signs. Those deaths and that struggle will be remembered today at 11am in front of the Howard Theatre (see Calendar for details) as DC sanitation workers – represented by AFSCME District Council 20 Local 2091 – and their brothers and sisters across the labor movement, along with religious, community and political allies – observe a national moment of silence. Today’s commemoration kicks off Black History Month and AFSCME’s “I AM 2018” campaign, which includes a vigil at the Supreme Court later this month; stay tuned for details.
DC LABORFest 2021