: Memphis sanitation workers on strike in April 1968. – Photo courtesy of Trice Edney Newswire

Trice Edney Newswire


Washington, D.C. – Last month, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released several episodes of The I AM Story, a new podcast detailing the history and legacy of the historic 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike.

The comprehensive series examined the origins of the strike and events leading up to the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated April 4 – 55 years ago while in Memphis supporting the strikers.

“The deaths of Robert Walker and Echol Cole in the back of a garbage truck on that cold, rainy day in 1968 set off a strike in Memphis like no other,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “Black sanitation workers took a courageous stand, a stand that drew the American labor movement and the Civil Rights Movement together to change the course of our history.”

The podcast provided a front-row seat to the events that shook the nation, featuring strikers and some of today’s leading civil rights icons, such as Martin Luther King III and Rev. James Lawson. Together, these powerful voices will guide listeners through history while also connecting the struggles of the past to the challenges working people still face.

Fifty-five years later, the fight continues for fair wages, safe working conditions, collective bargaining rights and more. AFSCME said they are also still fighting to ensure children are allowed to learn their history, as some politicians continue ban books like Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop from school shelves.

Saunders underscored the lasting impact of the moment on AFSCME’s history.

“In order to move forward, we cannot forget what happened in Memphis,” he said. “The sanitation strikers put their lives on the line for dignity and respect on the job – not just for themselves, but for everyone being mistreated and everyone whose rights were being denied. We will continue to educate our communities and organize around the strikers’ iconic slogan, ‘I AM A MAN,’ which still holds so much power after all these years.”

Listeners can find the podcast on all major platforms, including Spotify, Pandora, Apple, Amazon and Chartable.

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