MLK 50 ...Why marchers in Memphis are carrying "I am a man" signs

Crowds in Memphis have gathered near the site where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated 50 years ago today. Many of them are carrying black and white signs that read, "I am a man."

Here's what they mean:

The signs resemble those carried through the city by striking sanitation workers in 1968.

King was in Memphis on April 4, 1968, in an effort to rally support for the sanitation workers' strike, which started that February, over dangerous working conditions and the deaths of two men who were crushed to death in garbage compactors.

Memphis Mayor Henry Loeb had refused to meet with workers or recognize their union. They marched in downtown Memphis wearing and carrying what have become iconic sandwich boards and placards emblazoned with the words, "I Am a Man."

Local politicians of the time say that the strike was all but broken until King came to Memphis to re-energize the sanitation workers.

Adrian Long

Adrian Long

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