Going Down Jericho Road

Going Down Jericho Road

The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign

Book - 2007
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Memphis in 1968 was ruled by a paternalistic "plantation mentality" embodied in its good-old-boy mayor, Henry Loeb. Wretched conditions, abusive white supervisors, poor education, and low wages locked most black workers into poverty. Then two sanitation workers were chewed up like garbage in the back of a faulty truck, igniting a public employee strike that brought to a boil long-simmering issues of racial injustice.

With novelistic drama and rich scholarly detail, Michael Honey brings to life the magnetic characters who clashed on the Memphis battlefield: stalwart black workers; fiery black ministers; volatile, young, black-power advocates; idealistic organizers and tough-talking unionists; the first black members of the Memphis city council; the white upper crust who sought to prevent change or conflagration; and, finally, the magisterial Martin Luther King Jr., undertaking a Poor People's Campaign at the crossroads of his life, vilified as a subversive, hounded by the FBI, and seeing in the working poor of Memphis his hopes for a better America.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2007.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393043396
Branch Call Number: 331.8928 HONEY M
Characteristics: xviii, 619 pages, [16] pages of plates ; illustrations ; 25 cm.


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Aug 15, 2015

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor.”
It's great to read these histories of the civil rights moment because we really liked that racism in America. Sorry, that was sarcastic. Unfortunately, these books are still relevant and a reminder that the struggle is never over. It's become all too common to cart out MLK as a feel good symbol of racial harmony, which does a disservice to his truly radical critique of American society, which included not just race, but also Vietnam, militarism, poverty, and capitalism itself. in 1968, he headed down to Memphis to support poorly paid and poorly treated black sanitation workers. He confronted not just lousy working conditions, but institutionalized racism, violent cops, hostile locals, and an instransigent mayor who kept a shotgun behind his desk. And, of course, he lost his life in Memphis. It's not an easy read, but it is an essential one. "All labor has dignity."


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