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Najla Williams
University News
April 4, 2011
Labor Legend to Discuss 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2011) – Civil Rights advocate William Lucy will be featured during a   symposium on the landmark Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike of the 1960s. The event will be held in the Blackburn Center Auditorium from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 15.

The event, titled “Conversations with William Lucy,” will highlight Lucy’s involvement with the labor strike as a high-level labor leader. A discussion and tribute to Lucy will be followed by “I Am a Man: From Memphis, a Lesson in Life,” a short documentary about the strike. A reception in the Hilltop Lounge is also planned.

Lucy is a former international secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). In 1968, Lucy traveled to Memphis to lend his support to the city’s sanitation workers. The men were struggling to form a local union chapter in the face of fierce opposition from city officials. Pickets and marches were met with police batons, beatings and arrests.

“Everyday I teach history and students never get to interact with real figures in history,” said Dr. Edna Greene Medford, chair of Howard’s Department of History. “It’s important for students to interact with them before they can no longer take advantage of their presence among us.”

For more than three decades, Lucy was among the highest-ranking African-American leaders in the Labor Movement. A native of Memphis, Tenn., he is a civil engineer by trade and attended the University of California at Berkeley. In 2006, Lucy received a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa).

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