Memorial Activity is one of many “I AM 2018” Campaign Events Observing the 50th Anniversary of Strike and Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Cincinnati will be one of many municipalities across the country observing a nationwide Moment of Silence on February 1, 2018 in honor of Echol Cole and Robert Walker, two Memphis, TN sanitation workers who were crushed to death 50 years ago in the compactor of their garbage truck.
To commemorate their lives and to honor the 50th anniversary of the tragic events that sparked the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, AFSCME members across the country are joining in a nationwide Moment of Silence on February 1, 2018.
If you cannot attend that event, please organize at your workplace and/or take a moment during the day to pay respect and remember the lives so needlessly lost and the seminal moment this event became.
BACKGROUND: On February 1, 1968, a storm forced Memphis sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker to seek shelter in the back of their truck. The workers’ repeated warnings to management about faulty equipment proved tragically prophetic that day when the truck’s compactor kicked on, crushing the two men to death.
Their co-workers decided they had had enough. They had worked for far too long for poverty wages, without any benefits, in dangerous conditions, and with no respect. They voted to strike, and despite facing intense animosity, they bravely continued their strike for more than two months.
They were joined in their struggle by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who traveled to Memphis to march in solidarity. King was assassinated after making a powerful and historic speech in support of the workers’ struggle for dignity and justice.