January 22, 2018

National Moment of Silence: February 1

In 1968, they rallied for justice and equality. 50 years later, we carry it on.

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.

To commemorate the lives and deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker and to honor the 50th anniversary of the tragic events that sparked off the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, AFSCME members across the country are joining in a nationwide Moment of Silence on February 1, 2018.

Contact your local union for information about an event near you.

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