Press Release

NAACP to Honor Courageous Memphis Sanitation Workers on 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s Assassination with I AM Campaign

April 2, 2018

SERIES OF MEMPHIS EVENTS AND MARCH TO PAY TRIBUTE TO DR. KING’S LEGACY,

WHILE MOBILIZING, EMPOWERING AND CHALLENGING NEXT GENERATION ACTIVISTS

BALTIMORE (April 2, 2018) — In 1968, in the great southern city of Memphis, Tennessee, sanitation workers in that city went on strike to demand fair wages and safer working conditions. Earlier that year, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to Memphis to join the strikers, union members of AFSCME Local 1733, in a show of solidarity with their cause. On April 3rd, King delivered his prophetic “Mountaintop” speech at the historic Masonic Temple, the world headquarters of the Church of God In Christ (COGIC) and woefully, within the next 24 hours Dr. King was slain.

April of this year marks the solemn 50th anniversary of these events, and beginning April 2-4, the NAACP, AFSCME, COGIC and civil, human and workers’ rights leaders will all come together once again in Memphis for I AM 2018, a series of activities paying tribute to King’s legacy, as well as the courage and sacrifice of the sanitation workers. This observance, however, is more of a clarion call to action than a mere commemoration. With its theme drawn from the strikers’ iconic slogan, “I AM A MAN,” the I AM 2018 campaign will train and mobilize next generation activists to affect change in their communities throughout 2018, and beyond.

The initiative’s key learnings will include effective organizing, community activism and leveraging strategic partnerships, and I AM 2018 will work to show the correlation of the legacy of the strikers and the late Dr. King, to many of the issues now facing the nation. With this series, which includes speeches, a town hall, a rally and march, the NAACP envisions helping to re-build and reinvigorate a movement of focused, dedicated activists who will continue the unfinished work of making King’s dream real.

“As we join our spirit of activism with so many next week in Memphis for this march and rally, our overarching goal is to lift up Dr. King’s legacy of active participation in our democracy,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO. “This anniversary is a very special occasion. We stood up as a people then, and we are standing now,” he continues.  “The NAACP is proud that through the calendar of I AM activities, we’ll be able to connect the movements of the past with today’s youth and movements for social change, while symbolically passing the mantle, and strengthening and energizing our Youth and College Division Leadership.”

ABOUT THE NAACP:

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting NAACP.org. To become a member of the NAACP, and part of the solution, visit: http://www.naacp.org/membership/.

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