Woman who marched with Dr. King, receives lifetime achievement award

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 2:48 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Glenda Strong Robinson said she didn’t know that her decision to skip class back in March of 1968, would change the course of her life.

“We didn’t even think about it,” said Robinson. “When we heard Dr. King was coming to Memphis to March for the sanitation workers – we made it downtown as soon as we could.”

Robinson, who grew up in Memphis, Tennessee during the Jim Crow era, told reporter Ashonti Ford that Dr. King was a leader of positive change for Blacks in the 60′s.

“He was our hope – I was only in the 10th grade when he shared his I Have a Dream Speech; but by the time he started marching for the sanitation workers in Memphis, I was a college student.”

She told me that this was the start to her community activism.

“When we found out the stance of the mayor, Henry Loeb - how he was so anti the humanity of the Black garbage worker, we had to march,” she said. “They had no rights; they could work from 6am - 11 pm. They weren’t allowed to ride in the cab of the trucks, they had to swing off the back.” 

Injustices that led Robinson and her college roommates to march that day. They were joined by Dr. King.

“We didn’t know it then but that would be his last march,” said Robinson.

Dr. King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. This was less than a week after the Memphis Movement march.

“Back then, the Whites in our dormitory area wouldn’t let Blacks use the T.V. but that day they did,” she said. “I remember them running down the halls cheering, saying ‘That N-word got what he deserved’ – it was devastating.”  

Robinson was joined with other Black students at Memphis State University, as they grieved the death of D. King.

“So, you’re telling me right now that our hope is gone? All we could do was stand there and hold each other, hug each other. I was just numb,” she said.

That experiences spearheaded Robinson into being a positive change agent for her community.

“I was motivated,” she said. “My great grandfather was a slave; the land that his plantation was on is now a family farm – we bought it.”

Robinson joined several other who refused to let Dr. King’s death be in vain.

“I just recently accepted a lifetime achievement award; it was truly an honor,” she said.

Now, her time Is spent keeping hope alive by continuing to share Dr. King’s story.

“You have to know the history, said Robinson. “People should know, someone died to pay the price for our liberties today.”