Minister who helped resolve '68 sanitation strike featured in BBC documentary

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - While Memphis gears up to honor the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death, other cities are taking notice.

Father Nick Vieron turns 92 in November. He was a key player in the 1968 Sanitation Workers Strike in Memphis. Still, he downplays his role in history.

"We were just ministers who happened to be white and supporting something that was not popular at the time," Vieron said.

BBC radio is in Memphis putting together a documentary about the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination.

"The person that was against us was the mayor, Henry Loeb," Vieron said.

Memories of the Civil Rights Movement are everywhere inside Vieron's office at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

He remembers being a mediator between the sanitation union and city officials.

"They wouldn't talk to each other," Vieron said. "'Well ask him why check-off dues are not acceptable' and things like that. They would go through us you know."

Vieron was brought to tears thinking back on the assassination.

"I knelt before him and I said, 'I'm sorry for what someone from my race did.'"

Reverend James Netters was also interviewed also by BBC radio at his church Mt.Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood.

Soulsville Foundation spokesman Tim Sampson helped organize the BBC visit.

He said Stax Music Academy students will also hear from these Civil Rights legends.

"When the kids hear it from somebody who was there and who felt the pain and joy and all the other feelings that went along with trying to do all that, I think the kids get a clearer understanding and they get a feeling," Sampson said.

Father Vieron and Rev. Netters' stories will be shared with more than 14 million BBC Radio listeners.

In the coming months, WMC Action News 5 will have in-depth coverage leading up to the 50th anniversary, and we want to hear from YOU.

What stories, what voices, what emphasis would YOU like to see represented?

Send an email to WMC's Kontji Anthony by clicking here, and she'll share your ideas with the team as we honor MLK.

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