MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Typically hundreds walk through Main Street for the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. This year the 36th annual parade was held online due to the pandemic.
Nonetheless many gathered virtually to honor Dr. King including Elmore Nickleberry, a former Memphis sanitation worker and 1968 striker who marched alongside the civil rights icon.
”The working conditions were poor, we had poor work conditions,” said Nickleberry. “It was hard on the sanitation department.”
Nickleberry recalled the challenges he went through as a sanitation worker.
”People didn’t know what the sanitation department did, it was a hard job, it was a nasty job and we had to do it,” he said.
Nickleberry was presented with a plaque for standing up for sanitation workers then and now.
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Memphis city Mayor Jim Strickland were also part of the virtual celebration. Both reflected on the work Dr. King and Nickleberry did and acknowledged there is a lot more work to do.
“I’m reminded of a historical moment that occurred more than 50 years ago. Our unions led marches, held strikes and fought hard with Dr. Martin Luther King because of their efforts, because of their fights we have better working conditions for sanitation workers right here in Memphis, Tennessee. We still have a long way to go,” said Harris.
”May we never forget your sacrifices and those inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His commitment for change through non-violence was the basis of today’s parade, for that we are forever grateful,” said Strickland.
NAACP President Van Turner also echoed the message that a lot more work needs to be done by saying the organization is needed today just as much as when the organization started.