Thousands of people from all over the world gathered in Memphis on Wednesday to participate in I AM 2018’s “Rally For Justice.” The rally included music, speeches by activists, and a march to Mason Temple, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final "Mountaintop" speech.
People of all ages gathered on Beale Street outside the AFSCME local 1733, where history was made during the 1968 sanitation workers strike. Those active during the civil rights era want to ensure that it is not forgotten.
In the 1960s, Maeolla Anderson-Cotts worked alongside revolutionary activists, such as Stokely Carmichael and Fannie Lou Hamer, in the fight for civil rights. She attended the rally to remind young people of the power they still have in the fight for equality.
“I came here today at 74-years-old because I could not stay home,” she said. “ I wanted to commemorate and keep being a role model for the young people, so they would know what Dr. King stood for.”
Reverend Leslie Moore, a retired sanitation worker, got his job with the city in the early 1960s. He marched in the strike 50 years ago, and was among those on Beale Street who held signs that read: “I Am a Man.”
“So many times we would feel like quitting but we were not going to do that, we going to hang on in there,” he stated.
Moore was just one of many involved in the strike. Sanitation worker, Elmore Nickleberry, who still works for the City of Memphis, as its longest-serving employee, was there to lend his voice to a new generation of labor.
“Keep on marching because some things we don’t have and we got to keep marching, and I think this year will be a better year for the sanitation of Memphis. Memphis is a great city and it’s going to be better,” he explained.
Nickleberry plans to retire at the end of the month. The "Rally for Justice" kicked off Wednesday's events and the commemoration concludes at the Lorraine Motel with the tolling of the Clayborn Temple bell.