NYT begins new series depicting lives of people on the front lives of the civil rights movement

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tags: civil rights, MLK

This is the first in an occasional series we’re calling “Living History,” featuring stories of Americans who have been on the front line of the civil rights movement.

For 63 mostly uninterrupted years, the rhythms of Elmore Nickleberry’s life have included the rumbles and roars of Memphis’s sanitation trucks. Even now, at 85 and the longest-tenured employee in the city’s history, Mr. Nickleberry still runs a downtown route until 3 a.m.And in the darkness, he cannot help but reflect during collections across the street from the National Civil Rights Museum.

“Every night I go down there, I see someone taking pictures,” said Mr. Nickleberry, one of the hundreds of black sanitation men who mounted a strike in 1968 to protest working conditions in a Southern city that was deeply split by race. 

“And that does something to me when I think about what happened.” 

But he did not have any real certainty about his retirement nest egg until this month, when the city said it intended to award tax-free grants of $50,000 each to Mr. Nickleberry and the 13 other surviving strikers — an improvised fix to one of the most bitter legacies of Memphis’s labor history.

Read entire article at NYT

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