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U of M Librarian Will Document '68 Sanitation Workers' Strike University News
For release: January 11, 2010

For press information, contact Tom Mendina, 901-678-4310

In early 1968, two Memphis sanitation department workers died when their new trash-compacting truck malfunctioned. Their deaths were the catalyst for a strike that attracted international attention to civil and human rights and fatefully drew Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the city on behalf of the workers.

The University of Memphis will host a retrospective presentation focusing on the volunteers who recognized the importance of the strike well before King’s assassination, and the materials they collected and organized to provide a snapshot of a city in upheaval.

Ed Frank, associate professor, University Libraries, and head of Special Collections, will present “Documenting ’68: The Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike Collection,” on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at noon on the fourth floor of the Ned R. McWherter Library near the Special Collections area. The program is free and open to the public.

A native Memphian, Frank is president of the West Tennessee Historical Society Inc. He holds two degrees in history from the U of M.

The Sanitation Workers’ Strike Collection is the definitive source of research material on this pivotal moment in Memphis history, featuring such items as “I Am a Man” signs, hate mail, interviews with participants, photographs of street violence, “Welcome to Memphis” booklets featuring racist caricatures, and police reports. It has been used by scholarly and popular writers, historians and sociologists, artists, and feature and documentary filmmakers from around the world.

The McWherter Library is located on the east side of the campus. Convenient parking is available in the Innovation Drive and Zach Curlin parking garages.

For more information, call Tom Mendina at 901-678-4310.

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