Captb18c239f1b5e44ffa384353e826099eThis has been an emotional week here in my hometown of Memphis. The world's attention was focused on a relatively modest building on a quiet street downtown that was the site of one of the saddest events of the 20th century - the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the assassination, presidential candidates, civil rights movement legends, the children of the slain leader and ordinary folks from around the world gathered at the Lorraine Motel here to commemorate the day. The building has quite appropriately been transformed into the wonderful National Civil Rights Museum, well worth the visit to Memphis (though it's the house of another king that draws most tourist to our city).

Two years ago this week I blogged from the National Civil Rights Museum when supporters of immigration rallied here in Memphis (as groups around the country did on that day). The link between the struggle of immigrants and the civil rights struggle in this country is long standing and I was pleased to see the Soy Hombre signs yesterday during the anniversary march here in Memphis.

For those of you not familiar with the details of the King assassination, MLK was in Memphis supporting striking sanitation workers. The working conditions of those workers was abysmal and after two workers were killed by a malfunctioning trash compressor, the workers decided that was the last straw.  Aside from the tragedy that led to the end of the strike, the workers are also remembered today for the picket signs they carried that read "I am a Man". The simple point they conveyed was that they were human beings who deserved to be treated with basic dignity.


Immigrants carrying the Spanish translation of that sign, "Soy Hombre" are also asking for nothing else than to be treated as human beings. Anti-immigrant groups have tried to dehumanize the illegally present immigrant population with much success. Yesterday's commemoration in Memphis was a little reminder of another era where man's inhumanity to his fellow man left a permanent scar on the country.

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