Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressman Cohen Commemorates Black History Month

February 1, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) marked the start of Black History Month today and made the following statement:

“We begin the month remembering the loss of Sanitation Workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker who were crushed inside a garbage truck while trying to avoid a downpour, sparking the 1968 strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to town to be felled by an assassin’s bullet.

“Black history in Memphis recalls giants of the Civil Rights movement such as Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) whose The Memphis Free Speech newspaper campaigned against lynching in the Jim Crow South, Tom Lee’s heroism in saving 32 drowning passengers of a sinking Mississippi River steamboat in 1925 and all those who fought for quality schools, voting rights and fair housing such as Maxine and Vasco Smith, Russell Sugarmon, Benjamin Hooks, Cleo Kirk, Walter Bailey, Jesse Turner Sr., and A.W. Willis, along with so many more.

“Along the way, African Americans with ties to Memphis contributed to the history of American music with W.C. Handy, B.B. King, Phineas Newborn, Ma Rainey, Furry Lewis, Memphis Slim, Memphis Minnie, Little Laura Dukes, Ruby Wilson, Booker T. Jones, Carla and Rufus Thomas, Mavis Staples, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Blind Mississippi Morris Cummings and all the artists who played Beale Street or the jukes around town. Memphian Robert R. Church was the first black millionaire in the South.

“Memphis appears in chapter after chapter of American history, and I’m always pleased to celebrate Black History and its Memphis roots every February, and every other month.”