Join Together to Recognize a Turning Point in the Civil Rights Movement

Washington, DC (August 23, 2017) — As the shocking events of Charlottesville, bolstered by the incendiary rhetoric of Donald Trump, stir nightmarish visions of the 1960s, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) are embarking upon a major commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike and Dr. Martin Luther King’s final “Mountaintop” speech; events that led up to Dr. King’s assassination and transformed the civil rights landscape forever. On June 27th, AFSCME and COGIC launched the “I AM 2018” CAMPAIGN, designed to connect the legacy of the strikers and Dr. King to the current issues facing our nation.

States AFSCME President Lee Saunders, “AFSCME emphatically and unequivocally condemns the Nazi white nationalists who spewed vile bigotry and incited domestic terrorism two weeks ago. Now is a moment for all Americans who believe in freedom and justice, in tolerance and inclusion, to stand up and speak out. In light of this, our union has been on the front lines of the civil and racial justice struggle for decades. In the coming year, through the “I AM 2018” initiative we have launched, we will honor the memory of Dr. King a half-century after he was assassinated during a trip to Memphis to support striking AFSME sanitation workers.”

“The violence, hate and white supremacy on display in Charlottesville, Virginia must be condemned by all people of faith and goodwill,” said COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. “We in the church must provide moral leadership to show how we vigorously pursue justice.”

Saunders stresses that, “This campaign is not just a look back at our past; it’s a call to action, to inspire and train people to create a better American future. One where we lift up each other. One where we recognize and celebrate our common humanity. One where we respect and embrace our neighbors.”

During the 1960s, one of the most transformative chapters in the civil rights movement was the close collaboration between religious, civil rights and labor organizers – the same spirit I AM 2018 seeks to create. “By attacking problems, in communities across the nation, from these interrelated perspectives simultaneously we maximize the likelihood of success,” added Bishop Blake.

Leading up to events planned for April 2, 3 and 4, 2018, the campaign will focus on training and mobilizing youth activists and organizers to work in communities nationwide – addressing the issues civil rights, labor rights, and economic justice. There will also be a wide range of other activities taking place between now and April, including town halls and trainings. For more information on the “I AM 2018” CAMPAIGN, go to

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