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In the wake of the deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker, 1,300 Memphis sanitation workers went on strike. The men were demanding safer working conditions and basic respect for the services they provided. But Mayor Henry Loeb dug in, refusing to recognize their union or even talk to the workers. When a peaceful demonstration elicits a violent response from Mayor Loeb’s police force, it becomes clear exactly what the strikers are up against. The city’s hostility brings local churches, students and civic leaders into the struggle. Rev. James Lawson, a leading advocate of nonviolent resistance, emerges as a chief strategist, organizing sit-ins, daily marches and arrests. And the greatest civil rights leader of the time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., comes to Memphis to lend his voice to the fight.   

This episode features AFSCME President Lee Saunders, exclusive interviews with Rev. Lawson, AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Bill Lucy and historian Michael Honey, along with archival audio from Dr. King, Rev. Gilbert Patterson, AFSCME official P.J. Ciampa, Ezekiel Bell, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and Rev. William Maxwell Blackburn.