HIST 202G: Recent American History
“At the River I Stand”
There was a long list of issues that the long suffering sanitation workers had with the city of Memphis. They were forced to work long hours for a meager wage with no days off, no overtime pay, no benefits, no sick leave or vacation pay and no protocols for dealing with grievances that workers may have. They were expected to do the job with equipment that was worn and unsafe, directly resulting in the death of two men. Realizing it was time for a change, the sanitation workers decided that they wanted to form a union that was recognized by the city. When they were refused, they decided a strike was the only way they could have their voices heard and their needs met.
Another of the social issues I felt the film portrayed and that I was unaware existed at the time of the Memphis march was the impact that black militant groups had on the initial march Dr. King led in Memphis. These young people shared the same desires as those involved in the non-violent movement, but they just had different views on how to make it happen. I was glad to see that Dr. King was able to find a way to incorporate this large number of black Americans into the march without using the violent tactics they were accustomed to.
After writing many papers and doing my fair share of research about his life and his work, I believe Dr. Martin Luther King is one of the greatest men in American history and frankly, of all time. If I would have been there, in those times, I would have certainly done anything I was able to further the civil rights movement. There is no doubt that if I had been a college student in the early sixties, I would have found a way to be on the front lines and do whatever I could to support the cause, whether that be marching down Beale St. in Memphis, participating in a sit-in in Greensboro, or as one of the many Freedom riders, riding on a Greyhound bus...