Sanitation worker shares memories of strike - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Sanitation worker shares memories of strike

Looking back at old pictures, Elmore Nickelberry and his wife reflected Sunday on the racism that was such a big part of the sanitation department in Memphis during the 1960's.

"All the foremens was white, and they would talk to you any kind of way," Nickelberry said. "They would say, 'Boy I want you to do so and so...boy I want you to go over there and pick up that garbage over there.'  So you had to do that to keep your job."

Nickelberry said poor working conditions were among the reasons he and others went out on strike.
But, he said, the strike would not have succeeded without Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.

"He played a good role in settling that strike," Nickelberry said. "If it wasn't for him, we might still be on strike now."

King's assassination still troubles Nickelberry, who said the fallen civil rights leader will never be forgotten.

"He lives on in me. He was one of the greatest men I've ever known," he said.

Nickelberry continues to work the job he says Dr. King helped him keep, and he has no plans to retire.

"I'm going to work as long as I can," He said.

Nickelberry will turn 77 this year.  Recently he and other sanitation workers were presented awards by AFL-CIO union members in town for a conference honoring Dr. King.

Click here to send an email to Lori Brown.

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