MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One of the last surviving members of the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike has died.
Baxter Leach helped lead the charge for sanitation workers to unionize and fought for labor rights and better working conditions.
The strike eventually brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis.
Leach was honored during the MLK50 Commemoration in 2018 and received the National Civil Rights Museum’s 2017 Freedom Award.
“He contributed so much to the knowledge of the struggle, making it real and tangible for the next generation,” reads a statement from NCRM. “We will miss him tremendously.”
In 2018, Leached talked to WMC about the challenges the workers faced during the strike but said it was worth it in the end.
“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.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland sent his condolences to Leach’s family on behalf of the City of Memphis.
Leach was 79 years old.