Martin Luther King Jr.'s staff called the labor troubles in Memphis a distraction and advised against his going there. They argued that King had a mass of details to work out for the Poor People's Campaign, a nationwide series of marches and speeches that would end with a giant rally in Washington. But the civil rights leader insisted on marching in Memphis, where black sanitation workers employed by the city were demonstrating to form a union. These men, he said, were abused and overworked, yet unwilling to remain silent -- exactly the qualities he was looking for. Said King: "You're doing...

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