Memphis Sanitation Workers

Historic Strike & Pivotal Moment in the Civil Rights Movement

Memphis, like other cities in the South, had a long history of mistreating Black people. One of those events was the events leading up to the Memphis Sanitation workers strike. 

Echol Cole and Robert Walker were two Black male sanitation workers. The work was hard and unsafe. During a storm, they climbed in the back of a garbage truck and something caused it to turn on, killing them. 

The strike of the Memphis Sanitation workers started on February 12, 1968 – 11 days after the deaths of Cole and Walker. Workers were very upset by the deaths and the response to them. The families at first did not get any money or help from the government or job. The strike lasted until April 16th when the city agreed to raise the wages.

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