Black Ancestors : Echol Cole and Robert Walker

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by cherryblossom, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Messages:
    19,252
    Likes Received:
    5,505
    Gender:
    Female
    Ratings:
    +5,560
    On Feb. 1, 1968, Echol Cole, 36, and Robert Walker, 30, rode out a driving Memphis rainstorm by climbing inside one of the sanitation division's old "wiener barrel" trucks. The walls inside the packer were caked with putrefying garbage of all sorts - yard waste, dead chickens, moldy food. Any port in a storm, they say.



    At the end of a miserable, cold workday, Cole's and Walker's soiled, worn-out clothes smelled of garbage. The city did not provide them gloves, uniforms or a place to shower. They did hard, heavy work, lifting garbage tubs and carrying them on their shoulders or heads, or dumping the contents of pushcarts into outmoded trucks. On this particular day, Cole and Walker rode in a precarious, stinking perch between a hydraulic ram used to mash garbage into a small wad and the wall of the truck's cavernous container.

    As crew chief Willie Crain drove the loaded garbage packer along Colonial Street to the Shelby Drive dump, he heard the hydraulic ram go into action, perhaps set off by a shovel that had jarred loose and crossed some electrical wires. He pulled the truck over to the curb at 4:20 p.m., but the ram already was jamming Cole and Walker back into the compactor.


    One of the men lurched forward and nearly escaped, but the ram snagged his raincoat and dragged him back. "He was standing there on the end of the truck, and suddenly it looked like the big thing just swallowed him," said a horrified woman...


    ....The city provided a voluntary, self-financed life insurance policy covering death benefits up to $2,000, but Walker and Cole could not afford it. Because the city listed them as unclassified, hourly employees (they could be fired on a moment's notice), the state's workmen's compensation didn't cover them. The deaths left the wives and children of the two men destitute. A funeral home held their bodies until the families found a way to pay for their caskets. The city gave their families one month's salary and $500 for each man, but burial expenses of $900 for each worker used that up....


    ..The city had no facilities for black workers to wash up, to change clothes, or to get out of the rain..
    .... http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2007/jan/14/strike-changed-nation/
     
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Messages:
    19,252
    Likes Received:
    5,505
    Gender:
    Female
    Ratings:
    +5,560
    Echol Cole, 36 and Robert Walker, 30 were two sanitation workers killed while traveling in the back of garbage trucks in Memphis, Tennessee on Tuesday, February 1, 1968.

    “It was a gruesome chore to retrieve the two crushed bodies from the garbage packer (an old obsolete truck) and pronounce them dead at John Gaston Hospital.

    Echol Cole and Robert Walker soon became the anonymous cause that diverted Martin Luther King to Memphis for his last march. City flags flew at half-mast for them, but they never were public figures. . . . Cole and Walker would not be listed among civil rights martyrs, nor studied like Rosa Parks as the catalyst for a new movement."

    Adapted from Taylor Branch’s On Canaan’s Edge

    .... Neither man had life insurance. Walker’s wife
    Earline was pregnant when he died.

    http://www.nhcosh.org/pdfs/2012_Never_Forget.pdf


    [​IMG]
     
Loading...

Users found this page by searching for:

  1. echol cole

    ,
  2. Echol Cole and Robert Walker

    ,
  3. garbage man robert walker family members?