At the River I Stand (Directed by David Appleby, Allison Graham and Steven Ross, 1993). A poignant documentary set in Memphis, Tennessee during the 1960s, At the River I Stand, is a narrative about mobilization, determination and tragedy during the civil rights movement. It covers two very eventful months in 1968 that culminate with the success of the unionization of sanitation workers and the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.
Narrated by Paul Winfield, At The River I Stand tells the story of how, after integration, African Americans were pushed to the bottom of society. With extremely low wages and poor working conditions it was only a matter of time before emotions strained towards the breaking point. In February 1968, the atrocious working conditions for African Americans came to a head with the death of two sanitation workers. With no insurance or worker’s compensation, their families were left with nothing but heartache and more desperate times. As a result, 1300 sanitation workers walked off the job in a strike that lasted 65 days. With the simple statement “I am a Man” the worker’s movement gained momentum and determination. The strike then received national attention as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought his Poor People’s Campaign to Memphis, and is later tragically assassinated in the city.