March 28 marks 50 years since Sanitation Workers Strike

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis is one week away from commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Fifty years ago on March 28, the Memphis sanitation workers started marching to fight for a living wage.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he doesn't want them to get overshadowed during the MLK50 commemoration.

"Recognizing the bravery and inspiration that the sanitation workers…and I don't want them to be overshadowed in this remembrance," Mayor Strickland said.

The Memphis sanitation workers marched in Downtown Memphis for a living wage and better working conditions.

The city plans to honor their fight with a memorial: the "I Am a Man Plaza."

"I think the 'I am a Man Plaza' will be a world-recognized area," Mayor Strickland said.

The $1.5 million plaza is at the corner of Hernando and Pontotoc next to Clayborn Temple.

"They would organize their marches right there at Clayborn Temple, so historically it's a significant place," Mayor Strickland said.

The city hopes the Plaza will put the Sanitation Strike in the context of the struggle for civil rights in Memphis and in America, while also inspiring future generations to stand up for social justice and positive change.

As a part of the MLK50 commemoration, there are several events planned to honor Dr. King and the sanitation workers including the largest reenactment of the infamous "I Am a Man" photo, and the reveal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reflection site.

But even still, Mayor Strickland said he realizes it is a continuous struggle.

"I think we're making progress, but we're certainly not there," Mayor Strickland said.

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