MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — They rode the streets of Memphis in creaky, dangerous garbage trucks, picking up trash from home after home, toiling for a sanitation department that treated them with indifference bordering on disdain. In 1968 those workers took to the streets, marching with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to demand better working conditions, higher pay and union protection.
Forty-five years after King was killed supporting their historic strike, some of the same men who marched with him still pick up Memphis’ garbage — and now they are fighting to hold on to jobs that some city leaders want to hand over to a private company.
“It looks like they’re trying to take us down again,” said 81-year-old Elmore Nickleberry, one of the original strikers who still drives a garbage truck at night for the sanitation department. Nickleberry is expected to take part in a Thursday march to honor King’s sacrifice on the 45th anniversary of his death.
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