On Monday, February 12, a delegation of thirty-one SEIU Healthcare Missouri Kansas members loaded a bus for Memphis, TN. A coalition of organizations including Stand Up KC, Show Me 15, the (New) Poor Peoples Campaign, Jobs With Justice, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and several SEIU locals descended on Memphis for demonstrations and actions to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the start of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike.
The SEIU Healthcare group from Saint Louis showed their veteran status as demonstrators with the loudest, most practiced, most disciplined appearance on the Union Avenue McDonald’s strike line. At one point, an organizer for the event shouted, “We want Saint Louis at the front,” and our crew was placed front and center.
Next was a symposium at the National Civil Rights Museum, with a panel that included Elmore Nickleberry, one of the striking sanitation workers from 1968. Also in attendance was Bill Lucy, the AFSCME organizer for the 1968 strike, and Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU. The striking workers from Christian Care Home in attendance were recognized by the room.
The last event for the day was a retracing of the original march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to the Memphis City Hall in 1968, shortly before his assassination. Despite the cold, our delegation was energetic, committed, and boisterous. The mantra for the day was “The Lou, comin’ through!”
We’re proud of every member who participated in this historic, inspiring commemoration!