To honor the 50th anniversary of the tragic events that touched off the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, the entire labor movement is joining together to observe a moment of silence on Feb. 1, 2018. The moment of silence will launch the I AM 2018 campaign, a joint initiative between AFSCME and The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) to advance racial and economic justice.
On Feb. 1, 1968, a storm forced 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 coworkers decided they had had enough. They voted to strike, and despite facing racial hatred and disrespect, they bravely continued their strike for more than two months. They were supported by their AFSCME sisters and brothers from across the country, and by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who traveled to Memphis to march in solidarity, where he ultimately gave his life for their cause.
The Philadelphia event will be available via Facebook Live and is scheduled to start at 12:30 pm today, February 1st. SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry will be in attendance.