Former Memphis Sanitation Worker Recognized for Role in 1968 Strike Dies

Kelly Lofton

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former sanitation worker who was awarded a $70,000 grant years after participating in the 1968 Memphis sanitation worker’s’ strike has died.

Kelly Lofton Sr. was 89 when he died Monday. His daughter said he worked for the city from 1951 to 1995.

The strike he took part in was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was pushing for economic equality and social justice when he was assassinated in Memphis.

Nearly 50 years later, in 2017, the city of Memphis recognized the workers who participated in the 1968 events and awarded them $70,000 grants for their service.

Lofton, however, was left out of that group until his daughter began lobbying for his inclusion and found documents proving his service.

At the time, she said they were going to use the money to hire a caregiver to help cook and feed him.

Lofton’s name is on the I Am A Man memorial plaza downtown.