MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) –
Signs mimicking the “I am a Man” sign from the Sanitation Workers Strike can now be seen on sanitation trucks around the City of Memphis.
While the city said it’s to honor the workers, some people don’t like it.
One sanitation worker said he’s grateful for all the city is doing to honor the sanitation workers. However, he feels the slogan “I am Memphis” overpowers the meaning of “I am a Man” and MLK50.
It’s been 50 years since the Memphis Sanitation Workers made the declaration “I am a Man.”
Now, the city is righting its wrongs.
“The City of Memphis wanted to embrace its past,” said Ursula Madden, chief communications officer for the City of Memphis.
City leaders created the “I am Memphis” campaign to honor the sanitation workers. You’ll see the phrase plastered outside of city hall and on 12 sanitation trucks.
“Yes, at one point the City of Memphis did not stand with those people, but this is where we are today,” Madden said. “We’re in Memphis and today in Memphis, I am Memphis, they aren’t alone anymore.”
ASFCME Vice President Keith Johnson said he’s grateful for the positive things the city is doing to honor them, but he doesn’t want the “I am Memphis” slogan to overshadow what he says is the true meaning behind MLK50
“The way it was put on the trucks, it is overshadowing ‘I am Memphis,’ overshadowing a man and ‘I am a Man’ has great significance behind it because people actually died,” Johnson said.
“It’s not changing ‘I am a Man,’ ‘I am a Man’ is still featured very prominently with this poster, that’s the way we are acknowledging the past,” Madden said.
With MLK50 quickly approaching, the city wants to reassure sanitation workers they are at the center of their plans.
From creating an I am a Man Plaza to a reverse march, the city said it’s doing all it can to let sanitation workers past and present know they’re not alone.
“The city is with them, and therefore the past was yes ‘I am a Man’ and it was that struggle now it’s we’re with you, we understand, we bet it,” Madden said.
Meanwhile, Johnson said he would still like to see the “I am Memphis” poster removed.