Rochester honors ‘National Day of Silence’

Local News

The City of Rochester was one of many municipalities across the country to recognize the National Day of Silence on Thursday.

It honors Echol Cole and Robert Walker — two Memphis sanitation workers who were crushed to death in the compactor of their garbage truck 50 years ago.

The men were denied basic safety protections at work because of the color of their skin. Their deaths sparked a walk-out of 1,300 fellow sanitation workers. All members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME).

“50 years later, we reflect on those troubling days,” says Bill Slocum, local AFSCME president. “We recognize how far we’ve come and how far we need to go. I’ve also believed that the labor movement and the civil rights movement are two parts of the same struggle.”

The strike brought Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis in 1968 to support their cause.

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