Greenville Sanitation Workers Support Rally Mirrors MLK Jr's Last Stand

By: April Davis/ Chris Jones
By: April Davis/ Chris Jones

This Martin Luther King Junior Day was about action for one local group. The Pitt County Coalition Against Racism marched through downtown Greenville Monday morning.

Martin Luther King Jr. died in Memphis supporting public workers in that city. Monday, during a march through the city and a rally at the courthouse. Members of the Coalition Against Racism spoke out for Greenville's sanitation workers.

Hundreds of people marched through Greenville, celebrating the legacy of a civil rights icon.

"Martin Luther King helped pave the way for a lot of us leaders, and I really look at his life and I think about it and I try to reflect upon it and how to live my life and how to be a servant," said Greenville City Councilman Dennis Mitchell.

They came together to remember Dr. King and to continue working toward his dream.

"This was what the dream was all about: bringing people together," said Rev. Haywood Johnson II.

"So we wanted to really show broad unity, all sorts of economic classes and races coming ou to support Dr. King's legacy and what it means today,"said marcher Adam Linker.

Mirroring Doctor King's support of the memphis sanitation workers in the 60s.. many came out Monday to support the struggles of Greenville's sanitation workers.

"It's the sanitation workers standing up for their rights and saying they wouldn't take it any more." said CAR co-chair Don Cavellini.

9-year city sanitation worker Harold Barnes says the tension that led to a November strike and negotiations with the city that continue 2 months later were not just about a time card for sanitation workers- but for respect.

"We need dignity and respect for each worker. Not only for us, but people are going through the same identical thing and it's time for a change," said Barnes.

As with Dr. King's dream, Barnes says progress has been made, but more needs to be done.

"We already have some policies that's been put on the table, but we still have a long ways to go. A long ways to go," said Barnes.

Barnes says they're hoping for major changes- not only for the sanitation workers, but for other departments in the city.
He says he doesn't know how soon this will be accomplished.

City Councilman Dennis Mitchell says the city feels the sanitation workers provide outstanding service. He says it's a slow process and there won't be any overnight fixes.

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