Lee Saunders: We Need a 'Strong Army' to Advance Economic Justice and Civil Rights

It was raining on the day that Echol Cole and Robert Walker died while working for the Memphis Sanitation Department. Denied access to the employee break room, Cole and Walker were forced to shelter from the rain behind a malfunctioning city truck, only to die moments later when they were crushed by its garbage packer. That following week, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) walked off the job, citing racial discrimination, low wages and unsafe work conditions. Nearly 1,300 of the city’s mostly Black sanitation workers went on strike, marching through the streets carrying placards with a slogan that declared their humanity in the most concise way: “I am a man.”

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