Tragic Accident Sparks Sanitation Strike
On February 1, 1968, sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker took shelter from the rain inside their truck's garbage barrel because they had no raincoats. One block south of here, at the corner of Colonial and Verne, the compacting motor shorted, and the two men were crushed to death. On the same day, due to weather, 22 black sewer workers were sent home without pay while their white supervisors were retained for the day with pay.
On February 12, more than 1100 black sanitation workers began a strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition. The deaths of Cole and Walker were key factors contributing to the sanitation workers' strike. Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave three separate speeches in support of the strikers and their cause, the last coming on April 3. The following day, Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel.
Erected 2014 by Tennessee Historical Commission. (Marker Number 4E 173.)
Location. 35° 5.591′ N, 89° 54.194′ W. Marker is in Memphis, Tennessee, in Shelby County. Marker is at the intersection of Colonial Road and Sea Isle Road, on the right when traveling north on Colonial Road. Touch for map
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Eudora Baptist Church (approx. 1.6 miles away); Gen. James M. Kennedy Hospital (approx. 1.7 miles away); Crystal Shrine Grotto (approx. 1.8 miles away); William G. Leftwich, Jr. Memorial (approx. 1.9 miles away); Oakville Missionary Baptist Church (approx. 2.2 miles away); This Chimney Swift Tower (approx. 2.3 miles away); Normal Station Neighborhood (approx. 2.4 miles away); Second Presbyterian Church (approx. 2½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Memphis.
This marker was a project of the Memphis Pink Palace Museum
Additional keywords. AFSCME
Categories. • 20th Century • African Americans • Civil Rights • Labor Unions •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 19, 2015, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 489 times since then and 66 times this year. Last updated on May 20, 2015, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 19, 2015, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. 3. submitted on October 6, 2015, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.