Picture Books

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968

Picture book. By Alice Faye Duncan. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2018. 40 pages.
A historical fiction picture book that presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike.

Time Periods: Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Labor

Thanks to the author, watch a read-along video produced by the Memphis Public Library via the Memphis Public Libraries.

This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.

African American sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker were crushed to death on Feb. 1, 1968 when the rain triggered the trash truck’s compactor in Memphis, Tennessee.

Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike.

The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this, unfortunately, would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church and one year to the day after his speech against the U.S. war in Vietnam at Riverside Church in New York.

Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a combination of poetry and prose. [Most of this text is from the publisher’s description.]

ISBN: 9781629797182 | Published by Calkins Creek