MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson personally traveled to Memphis Tuesday morning, to present this year's Vanguard Award to the surviving sanitation workers from the 1968 strike team.
"It sparked a movement for labor rights worker rights not only in the city of Memphis but nationwide," Johnson said.
One of the recipients, Baxter Leach, said it hit home 50 years later standing next to the same men he went on strike. He said the challenges and adversity were tough but so is everything worth having.
"They told me quit my job. I said I ain't quitting my job. For what? What I'm gone quit for? That's the best job I ever had. I come from cotton fields, to cannons, fire trucks, buses. I did all that," said Leach.
NAACP representatives said the workers are an example to those today.
"We're honoring now men who stood strong 50 years ago to let you see what the organized power of a movement can do," said Keith Morgan, NAACP
NAACP representatives also announced FedEx would cover travel costs for any of the sanitation workers who wanted to travel to California for 49th NAACP Image Awards.
The ceremony will be broadcast live on TV One Monday, January 15, 2018 at 9 p.m. EST as a two-hour special hosted by Anthony Anderson.