March 30, 2018

I AM 2018

On April 2-4, AFSCME, COGIC, and civil, human and workers’ rights leaders gathered in Memphis for a series of events to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and the courage and sacrifice of Memphis sanitation workers who went on strike in 1968.

AFSCME’s I AM 2018 year-long initiative is honoring the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, bridging the past and the present by re-dedicating our union to the fight for justice and equality.

Memphis sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker sought shelter from a storm in the back of their truck on February 1, 1968. They were tragically crushed to death by the truck’s faulty compacter.

Their deaths sparked a strike of more than 1,000 sanitation workers, members of AFSCME Local 1733, which drew national attention in the midst of the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King came to Memphis to support the strike and was assassinated there a day after giving his historic “Mountaintop” address to the strikers and their families.

On February 1, AFSCME members commemorated the deaths of Cole and Walker with a Nationwide Moment of Silence. Dozens of Council 31 local union members joined the tribute in cities and worksites across Illinois.

I AM 2018 is an urgent call to fight poverty and prejudice, advance the freedom of all working people and remind America that there can be no racial justice without economic justice and no economic justice without racial justice.

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