New AFSCME podcast tells story of Black sanitation workers who demanded respect, changed history
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 4, 2023) — In April 1968, Memphis, Tennessee, was the heart of the racially segregated South. Black sanitation workers there faced poverty wages and degrading, dangerous conditions on the job. The city refused to act. But after two sanitation workers were crushed to death on the job, 1,300 workers said enough was enough and went on strike.
Fifty-five years ago today, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered at the age of 39 in Memphis. He was there to support those sanitation workers, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). They were experiencing not only racial discrimination, but disregard, disrespect and refusal by local government officials to recognize their union.
Today, AFSCME has launched “I AM STORY,” an exclusive podcast series exploring the history and legacy of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike. It tells the story of how sanitation workers marched in the streets demanding dignity and respect, holding signs that declared “I AM A MAN.” How they wanted recognition of their union… and their humanity. And how Dr. King supported their struggle by joining them in Memphis and delivering his historic “Mountaintop” speech there just before he was assassinated.
The podcast includes historic footage of labor, civil rights, and religious leaders of the day, as well as new interviews with figures like Martin Luther King III and Rev. James Lawson.
Subscribe and listen to I AM STORY here or wherever you get your podcasts.