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Black Workers RememberAn Oral History of Segregation, Unionism, and the Freedom Struggle$
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Michael Keith Honey

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780520217744

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520217744.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

“I Am a Man”

“I Am a Man”

Unionism and the Black Working Poor

(p.286) 7 “I Am a Man”
Black Workers Remember


University of California Press

This chapter talks about H. Ralph Jackson, a minister who became a key supporter of Memphis sanitation strikers in 1968. Jackson remembered that prior to their strike he was highly aware of racism, had a full appreciation of class issues, and that his own class privilege eluded him. The working poor suddenly became visible in 1968. In Memphis, the sanitation workers’ fight for union recognition, better wages and conditions, and dignified treatment upended the “good race relations” that paternalistic white leaders thought they had achieved. The strike exposed the poverty and abuse suffered by many black working people, and when police maced Rev. Jackson and other ministers during a demonstration supporting the strikers, he and others suddenly understood how powerless they felt.

Keywords:   H. Ralph Jackson, racism, Memphis sanitation workers, black working people, good race relations

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