Sue Hartke, Civil Rights Activists 1968
From MLK’s legacy and the renewed assaults on the working class and oppressed | San Francisco Bay View by Abayomi Azikiwe:
In February of 1968, the Memphis sanitation workers, who were almost all Black, went on strike in this Southern city demanding recognition and collective bargaining rights through the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The racist city administration of Henry Loeb refused to negotiate with the workers and a citywide strike support committee was established and headed by James Lawson, a longtime civil rights organizer.
King was invited to come to Memphis to address a community rally on March 18, where 13,000 people gathered to hear him speak. He called for a general strike in Memphis to force the city administration to recognize the sanitation workers.
On March 28, the day of the general strike, the police rioted and attacked a mass demonstration in downtown Memphis. The city administration shot dead a 14-year-old African American youth and declared an emergency, calling in the National Guard to suppress the demonstrations and the sanitation strike.