City of LA/Unions Lead "I AM 2018" Moment of Silence

In a moving tribute to two sanitation drivers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who were crushed to death on the job in Memphis, TN, 50 years ago -- the catalyst for the subsequent famous sanitation strike by AFSCME workers there -- the City of Los Angeles led a moment of silence at the beginning of the City Council session today.

The strike, which initially was not even sanctioned by the AFSCME International Union, took on even greater importance in the context of the civil rights marches of the 1960s, and particularly Dr. Martin Luther King's visit to Memphis, in solidarity, on April 3. The next day, following Dr. King's "I've been to the mountaintop" speech, he was assassinated.

City Council President Herb Wesson was visibly choked up by the significance of these events, which he said he personally remembers watching unfold, as he introduced Alice Goff, the former long-serving President of Council 36, and more than a dozen City of Los Angeles sanitation workers with SEIU Local 721. Other speakers included Pastor William Smart, of the SCLC-Southern California, an offshoot of the national organization Dr. King founded.

The moment of silence at Los Angeles City Hall marked the start of a series of commemorative  activities in AFSCME's "I AM 2018: 50th Anniversary of Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike" campaign, which will be taking place nationwide through April. 

The struggle for labor rights, civil rights, and human rights continues. It’s up to us to pick up where Dr. King left off. Inspired by his courage and his moral example, we are answering that call today.