Dear fellow redeemed, it was 50 years ago this month that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was in our district to speak up for the striking Memphis sanitation workers. As the nation prepares for a national remembrance of the assassination of Dr. King, I would like to share with you a Lutheran connection to the sanitation workers strike.
Recently, I sat down and visited with William Stewart, Jesse Moore, and Woodley Hunt. In addition to being deaf, and members of Cross of Calvary Lutheran Church, they were Memphis sanitation workers in April of 1968 during the strike. They have shared with me that, unlike today, each home had trash pick-up three times a week. When William Steward began working as a sanitation worker in 1959, he was paid 95cents per hour. In 1968, all three were earning $1.75 per hour and had no pension or health plan. All three have shared memories of marching with Dr. King, the signs that read “I AM A MAN,” and the assassination. All three are active members of Cross of Calvary Lutheran Church in Memphis.
Recently, all three men were honored with the NAACP Vanguard Award, and a one-time financial gift from the city of Memphis. We thank God for the living history of these men in our congregation.
— Pastor Russell Belisle
Cross of Calvary Lutheran Church