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Memphis: The Promised Land (2008) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • "Memphis - The Promised Land" is a short documentary film that explores the historically segregated past of what southern blacks have long regarded as the "cultural capitol" of the U.S. Delta region - a city divided equally by race, poverty and affluence. It explores the fight for equality of the city's African-American population including economic sanctions and direct action culminating in the Sanitation Workers' Strike of 1968 - a strike for better working conditions and equal pay that was set in motion by the death of two sanitation workers who were crushed to death in the back of a garbage truck seeking refuge from inclement weather because, being black, they were not allowed in the cab. The event also brought with it the fateful arrival of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had begun to turn his focus specifically from civil rights for African-Americans, to the rights of the working poor for Americans of every race with his Poor People's Campaign. On April 3rd, 1968, with the Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike all but settled and the workers having organized with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his last public address, spoke to sanitation workers, their families and Memphians at the Masonic Temple in what has come to be known as "The Promised Land" speech. The following day, Americans received the tragic news that Dr. King's life had been taken by a sniper's bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, permanently associating the city of Memphis with that chapter of civil rights in American and World History. In the following days, America and the world watched to see how the city and its inhabitants would respond. Forty years later, the vibrant city of Memphis, with it's history of segregation, violence and terrorism against African-Americans, and the stain of the murder of Dr. King, still struggles to rebuild her city and recover it's reputation.

    - Written by Producer/Director

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