Key member of Memphis’ striking sanitation workers dies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Close friends say a prominent member of the Memphis, Tennessee, sanitation workers union whose historic strike was supported by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has died. Baxter Leach was 79.

Gail Tyree is executive director of Memphis Local 1733 chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. Tyree said she spoke with Leach’s daughter, who said he died Tuesday morning.

Leach helped organize the 1968 strike that saw 1,300 sanitation workers march on Memphis streets with demands of higher wages and better working conditions. King came to Memphis to back the workers. He was killed on a hotel balcony on April 4, 1968.

Leach’s friend, Calvin Taylor, said he visited Leach at a hospital Monday. Taylor said Leach had been battling cancer.

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