Local 24 News political analyst & commentator Otis Sanford on the death of Baxter Leach

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on the death of Baxter Leach.

There will probably never be a statue erected in Memphis to honor Baxter Leach. And his name will likely never appear on a street sign. But none of that diminishes the role that he and his former co-workers in the city sanitation department played in changing Memphis simply by standing up for their dignity as men.

Mr. Leach died Tuesday at the age of 79. He was one of the few surviving sanitation workers who took part in the historic 1968 strike which brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the city where he was assassinated.

I was privileged to meet Mr. Leach in January 2018 while moderating a program at the Church of the Holy Communion commemorating the 50th anniversary of the strike and Dr. King’s death. Like others in the packed room, I felt a sense of humility listening to Mr. Leach and two other sanitation workers from 1968 explain what they endured and why. There was no bitterness in their words. Just a strong sense of resolve that they were fighting for a righteous cause. They never planned to make history. But they were well aware that their cause was greater than themselves.

Mr. Leach’s death was reported in the New York Times, The Seattle Times, and the Washington Times. And while there may never be a lasting monument in his name, he is no less deserving of our enduring gratitude and respect. And that’s my point of view.

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