HOUSTON — Local leaders gather at Houston City Hall Thursday afternoon for a moment of silence commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke less than two month prior to his assassination.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and other community leaders are in attendance.
The congress woman recently introduced H.Res 715, a resolution to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the strike and protest that followed the horrific accidental deaths of sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker. Dr. King recognized the cruelty of their deaths and sought to galvanize social awareness of the plight of working men and women.
Dr. King’s attempts at staging a peaceful protest were interrupted by police officers wielding pepper spray, nightsticks, mace, tear gas and gunfire. The protest led to the death of a third person with scores of others badly injured.
Weeks later, Dr. King would return to Memphis and deliver his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, an oration which would prove to be the final address of his life. He was assassinated the next day. Shortly after his assassination, sanitation workers reached an agreement largely consistent with Dr. King’s position.
“While Dr. Martin Luther King’s contributions to harmonizing race relations stand tall among his many achievements, his efforts to bring dignity and a sense of worth to workers is equally profound and worthy of remembrance 50 years after his death,” Lee said.