Plaza honoring 1968 Sanitation Workers Strike now open

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The I Am A Man Plaza is finally finished.

Many 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers said they were so happy and honored to know their legacy and their fight will live on forever.

"Thank God for this being in Memphis," said Elmore Nickleberry.

Nickleberry is one of the 1,300 sanitation workers who went on strike 50 years ago for better wages and working conditions.

Each of the workers' names is now etched into this permanent monument for decades to come.

"We have come a long way, a long way," Nickleberry said. "We could still do a little better, but I appreciate what the mayor is doing and I think more people should enjoy it."

Another sanitation worker from the strike, Roosevelt Franklin, passed away before the monument was completed.

"We are so proud of him, we miss him so much," said Franklin's daughter Naomi.

Franklin's children held his photo and his uniform Thursday as they explored the monument honoring their father.

"Speechless and in tears because it was hard, and my brother can say it best how much they made then and how they treated them," Naomi said.

The plaza sits next to the historic Clayborn Temple, a rallying site for strikers in 1968.

Thursday, hundreds rallied for the monument that may have been built in less than a year but took 50 years to get here.

"I hope this space becomes a place where Memphians can come to reflect, reflect on some fellow Memphians who quite literally changed the world," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.

City of Memphis has another unveiling and dedication happening Friday at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Reflection Park.

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