Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On April 4, 1968 he was murdered in Memphis, TN by James Earle Ray at the Lorraine Motel which has been converted to the Civil Rights Museum. Memphis is a wonderful town with many layers. Sure there is violence, racism, and poverty but so does every major city in America.
I have friends from all over the country and I love when they come to Memphis for a visit and swing by the Lorraine Motel while they are here. Most of my friends know Memphis as the born place of Elvis Presley, others recognize it as the home of Justin Timberlake, then some know it as the home of Anfernee Hardway, and others says its the home of the Blues and B.B. King. We have the iconic Beale Street as well. Memphis is all those things – HOWEVER, we have a rich history in civil rights.
Dr. King came to Memphis because of the sanitation worker’s strike, aka the garbage men, See back then, they didn’t have fancy trucks with the mechanical arms that swing out and grab the can and pours it in the truck. In fact the white men drove the trucks while the black guys hung on the back and they picked up the iron trash cans and carried the trash to the truck. The good ole white people threw everything in their cans and didn’t care if the can was cleaned or not. Those men would have dirty diapers, sanitary napkins, molded food and everything else on their bodies (including maggots) by the time they got home.
Back then, the City of Memphis did not want to pay them or offer them a pension. They were treated like subhumans, worst than dogs. This is why they joined together to strike and signs that read “I AM A MAN”. You see, trash is an important job and Dr.King knew it. He came here to draw attention to the mistreatment of these workers and to help unify the city in order to get these men the benefits and rights they deserve.
He lost his life fighting for them and still today (2018) there are a couple of sanitation workers still working for the city, today. And they are still fighting for pension benefits and back pay. It’s true – still today.
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movement are directly linked to the civil rights movements. The LGBTQTI community can thank the work of Dr. King 50 years ago for laying the foundation for them to have a blueprint to gaining the equal rights that they deserve. Even the Black Lives Matter movement today, would not be around if not for Dr. King’s work a over a half century ago.
So as you take time off work today, stop complaining about your first-world problems and remember why you are off work today. Appreciate the sacrifice of Dr. King and many other civil rights icons. And never ever say, you are tired of hearing about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. again.