Sanitation workers break ground on 'I AM MAN' plaza for MLK's 50th anniversary

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sanitation workers who participated in the Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike of 1968 helped break ground on the “I AM A MAN” Plaza during a ceremony Monday morning.

Striker Cleophus Smith still works for the City of Memphis. He said it was a joyous occasion.

“To see that we have come from a struggle into such a time as this as to where we can work in harmony,” Smith said.

The plaza sits adjacent to the historic Clayborn Temple, which is a building where hundreds of men and women marched for change, justice and equality.

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Renderings of the public art project show a sculpture with 15-foot-letters that say "I AM A MAN."
It also includes quotes from speeches by Civil Rights Leaders.

Elmore Nickleberry is the longest working sanitation worker in the City of Memphis. He said he hopes the plaza teaches others about the history of the strike.

“It means good to me because it gives some of the people’s kids, that we marched that we stood for something,” Nickleberry said. “We stood as a man.”

The plaza will open in 2018 for the 50th anniversary of the sanitation strike and Dr. King’s assassination.