AFSCME launches ‘I AM Story’ podcast

On the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., AFSCME releases the “I AM Story” podcast, which describes the working conditions faced by AFSCME sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968 – the year of their historic strike – and connects that seminal event to today’s struggle for economic and racial justice. The podcast also spotlights the ties between the labor and civil rights movements.

Episode One – the first of five to be released over the course of the spring – chronicles the degrading working conditions faced by 1,300 Black Memphis sanitation workers. It opens with an account of the horrific deaths of two of their co-workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, in the back of a malfunctioning garbage truck, which sparked the strike.

We also learn how AFSCME, under the leadership of then-President Jerry Wurf, marshaled its forces – including Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Bill Lucy, then an AFSCME staffer – to fight alongside the workers.

“In order to move forward, we cannot forget what happened in Memphis,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders in a press release announcing the podcast. “The sanitation strikers put their lives on the line for dignity and respect on the job – not just for themselves, but for everyone being mistreated and everyone whose rights were being denied. We will continue to educate our communities and organize around the strikers’ iconic slogan, 'I AM A MAN,’ which still holds so much power after all these years.”

Listen to the podcast now.