By Jena Williams


Today we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrating the changes his life brought to this country and maybe considering the work that still needs to be done to make this great country even stronger.

It’s a sad thing that often change is spurred by tragedy. Such was the case in 1968 when the city of Memphis finally got behind the need to change the pattern of business as usual. One February 1, 1968 two garbage collectors were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. After years of half-hearted support for change in working conditions, these deaths were what it took to build the support needed to bring the issue to the front lines. Bravery and sacrifice bought better working conditions for the next generation – our generation.

Now, what will we do for the next generation of workers? The third Monday in January has been put aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many have proposed for it to be a day “on” rather than a federal holiday “off.” Now I do understand that most in trucking don’t actually have today off, but stay with me, I haven’t forgotten you. We are all given opportunities to make our communities better, in big and small ways. We don’t all have to be a MLK, but we all have opportunities to make a difference and to “have a dream.”

Consider the Truckers Against Human Trafficking. Maybe you didn’t start the organization, but you can still make a call if you see an under-aged child being used. You have the opportunity to not look away. Truckers become angels in disguise all the time. Some are recognized, but I bet a lot of you work under the radar, helping people here and there because that is where your heart is. You make a difference.

As you look around at the people in your life, the people you brush past or hold the door open for. What needs to you see? I often wonder in the rush of my life, what opportunities to make a positive change have I missed? Whose needs have I ignored? What is the dream I should have to make our nation better? Well, I do have one, actually. I have bought into the mission of TIRES. I want to keep you safe on the job. I want you to have a good life and time with your families. I want you to know that I appreciate what you bring and how hard you have to work just to find a safe place to park for the night.

Thank you! And enjoy today. Let it be a day “on” in memory of a fine American.

More on Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike (1968):

Truckers Against Human Trafficking:

Truckload Carriers Association, Highway Angels: