Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressman Cohen Introduces Resolution Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

January 30, 2018
Press Release
Commemorates Events that Brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Memphis

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced a bipartisan resolution today recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last visit to Memphis. Cosponsors include the entire Tennessee delegation of the House of Representatives. Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

“Fifty years ago, 1,300 African American Sanitation Workers stood up for their rights and dignity by striking against a City of Memphis unwilling to treat them as men. Their struggle summoned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis on their behalf, where he was killed by an assassin’s bullet. Ultimately, with the integration of the labor and Civil Rights movements and the nation watching, the Sanitation Workers prevailed.

“My resolution, co-sponsored by more than 60 bipartisan members of the House, including the entire Tennessee delegation, lays out the dramatic history of mistreatment, scorn, bravery, determination, sacrifice, soaring oratory and monumental loss concentrated in the days between late January and early April of that revolutionary year. It points out specific heroic efforts made by the Sanitation Workers and those working in their behalf, including a handful of conscientious lawyers, union officials and ministers from across the denominational spectrum who saw that, as King told the strikers and their supporters on the last night of his life, ‘something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world.’

“As the whole world turns its eyes to Memphis for the April 4 remembrance of Dr. King’s sacrifice, it is altogether fitting and proper to remember that supporting Memphis sanitation workers striking for a living wage and recognition was the cause for which he ultimately gave his life.”