Tens of Thousands Expected to Descend Upon City April 2-4 to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of Sanitation Strike and Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the nation grapples with deep racial and economic injustices and inequality in communities from coast to coast, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Church of God in Christ (COGIC) are launching a national effort to ensure that the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1968 Memphis sanitation strikers lives on with a new generation of activists.
With the goal of advancing labor and civil rights and tackling issues plaguing low-income communities nationwide, for two days in April, the I AM 2018 campaign will transform Memphis into the birthplace of a new political movement and aggressive voter education and civic engagement program to mobilize turnout for the 2018 elections and beyond.
From April 2-4, 2018 – 50 years to the day Dr. King was assassinated – the country’s most prominent civil rights, faith, labor, entertainment and other leaders will hold first-of-its-kind training, mobilization and commemoration activities across the city, including at Mason Temple COGIC, the site of Dr. King’s final, prophetic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.
During this first week of April, faith, civil rights and labor leaders from AFSCME, COGIC and other civic organizations will help train hundreds of “I AM 2018” Dream Corps activists to kick off a new nationwide voter education and civic engagement program. At a Youth Town Hall, attending activists and leaders at the forefront of fights for economic and racial justice will discuss issues concerning urban youth and make plans for November and elections in the future.
Alongside these training, prominent journalists, academics, community leaders and subject experts will join a three-day Mountaintop Conference featuring panels on criminal justice reform, minority youth education, the future of American workers and the intersection of labor, faith and civil rights.
“I AM 2018 isn’t just a reflection on the past; it’s a call to action for the future. Dr. King and the Memphis strikers knew that you can’t achieve economic justice without racial justice,” Lee Saunders, AFSCME President, says. “And yet, 50 years after Dr. King’s Mountaintop speech, working people are still fighting those same fights. We’re embarking on a historic partnership with COGIC to build and grow a network of trained, energized activists, connecting our generation’s struggles with the unfinished work of the heroes of Memphis: Dr. King, the Memphis strikers and the faith leaders who stepped up together to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.”
“On the evening of April 3, 1968, Dr. King stood in the pulpit of Mason Temple and declared ‘We, as a people, will get to the promised land.’ Less than 24 hours later, he was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that watershed moment,” says COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. “In April, together with AFSCME, we are telling the world that it must come together to fight poverty and prejudice and advance the freedom of all people as we never have before.”
“I AM 2018” events in Memphis will include:
- April 2 & 3 (All Day) – Dream Corp Activist Training, @Mason Temple, 930 Mason St.
- April 2 (11:00 am to 6:30 pm, CST) – Mountaintop Conference Day 1 @Mason Temple: Opening remarks by COGIC Bishop Charles Blake, Sr. and AFSCME President Lee Saunders. Also, panel discussions featuring Ambassador Andrew Young and American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten, among others.
- April 3 (8:00 am to 12:30 pm, CST) – Mountaintop Conference Day 2 @Mason Temple: Panelists include actor Danny Glover, 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike organizer, William Lucy, several original 1968 Strikers and TV ONE news personality Roland Martin.
- April 3 (10:30 am to 2:00 pm, CST) – Youth Town Hall @Greater White Stone Missionary Baptist Church, 912 S. Wellington, St.: Among the panelists are actor Hill Harper and journalist Angela Rye.
- April 3 (6:00 pm to 8:50 pm, CST) – Mountaintop Speech Commemoration @Mason Temple: Among the featured speakers are Martin Luther King III, Dr. Bernice King, Bishop Blake and AFSCME President Saunders.
- April 4 (8:00 am to 11:00 am) – 1968 Striking Sanitation Workers Kick-Off Rally @AFSCME Local 1733, 485 Beale St.: Performers and speakers include, Common, Sheila E., MC Lyte, NAACP President & CEO, Derrick Johnson, Bishop Blake and AFSCME President Saunders.
- April 4 (11:00 am to 12:00 pm) – 1968 Striking Sanitation Workers Commemorative March to Mason Temple.
- April 4 (12:00 pm to 1:30 pm) – 1968 Striking Sanitation Workers Culminating Moment @Mason Temple: Featured speakers include Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson.
- April 4 (2:00 pm to 5:30 pm) – Urban Initiatives Training @Mason Temple.
For a complete list of events and activities, visit https://iam2018.org/event/.