06/21/2011-RADICAL ARTS MEMPHIS "MEMPHIS 1968 AND NOW" PERFORMANCE PIECE IN ALLIANCE WITH THE AFSCME RALLY OUTSIDE OF MEMPHIS CITY HALL AGAINST PRIVATIZATION OF THE SANITATION DEPARTMENT.
Imagine a large wooden board that stands alone with the word “Sacrifice?” across the top; numbers and the explanations of the statistics* they represent are posted all along this board. Extending out from the board are strips of white duct tape that run on the ground from the board to four metal trash cans, staggered at various points from the board. The entire performance space is around 10’ X 10’. Each trash can has a large number on it, which corresponds to one of the statistics on the board.
A man in a suit, carrying a briefcase with ‘corporate privatization’ painted on the side, enters the space and sees an “I AM A MAN” sign propped up against one of the trash cans. In disgust, he throws the sign into the can. As he places the lid on the can, you hear the muffled oration of Dr. King's last speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop." A lid on a nearby trash can pops off; the speech becomes loud and clear. Shocked and embarrassed, he runs over and replaces that lid, while another can’s lid pops off and we hear speeches from the recent union press conference. This cycle continues, with ‘the suit’ replacing lids, and audio from sanitation workers’ speeches and from Dr. King’s speech being heard as trash can lids pop off with increasing rapidity. Eventually, he places his briefcase in one of the trash cans and sits down in defeat.
*numbers on the four trash cans and their corresponding statistics:
0% = the amount of salary increase to which the sanitation workers have agreed for the past three years.
$0 = the amount of a sanitation worker’s pension
1300 (crossed out) with 500 underneath represents the number of sanitation workers in 1968 and today, respectively
550= the number of households whose trash one worker is responsible for every day (average)
LINK TO VIDEO OF THE PERFORMANCE:
MEMPHIS 1968 AND NOW
LINKS TO ARTICLES ABOUT THE RECENT PRIVATIZATION ATTEMPTS IN MEMPHIS