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I am a Man

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Genesis 1:26–28 KJV 1900
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:26–31 KJV 1900
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
The term boy, was used in slavery as a racist insult towards men of color and slave, indicating their subservient social statue in being less than a man.
In response, Am I Not A Man And A Brother? became a catchphrase used by British and American abolitionists.
The question "Am I Not A Man?" was brought up again during the Dred Scott decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.[3] During the Civil Rights Movementat the Memphis sanitation strike in 1968, "I AM A MAN!" signs were used to answer the same question.[4]
I am a man, assert the rights of all people to be treated with dignity.
April 4 began uneventfully. Dr. King and his aides spent the day at the Lorraine Motel, waiting for Reverend James Lawson and Reverend Andrew Young to return with news of whether the federal court would lift the ban on holding a sanitation workers march. The mood was light. Dr. King shared jokes and laughs with his brother, A. D. King, and the pair enjoyed a phone call with their parents. Rev. Young finally arrived around 5 o'clock. King playfully started a pillow fight with Young for not keeping him informed throughout the day. Within an hour, Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles arrived to take the group to dinner at his home. Unbeknownst to them, an assassin lay in wait across Mulberry Street, with a rifle ready to fire. King died that day.
The rain was torrential, flooding streets and overflowing sewers. Still, the Memphis public works department required its sanitation workers — all black men — to continue to work in the downpour Feb. 1, 1968.
That day, two sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, took shelter from the rain in the back of their garbage truck. As Cole and Walker rode in the back of the truck, an electrical switch malfunctioned. The compactor turned on.
Cole and Walker were crushed by the garbage truck compactor. The public works department refused to compensate their families.
Eleven days after their deaths, as many as 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis walked off the job, protesting horrible working conditions, abuse, racism and discrimination by the city, according to the King Institute at Stanford University.
The Memphis sanitation workers’ strike would win the support of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. — and lead to his assassination less than two months later.
The men King was defending worked in filth, dragging heavy tubs of garbage onto trucks.
“Most of the tubs had holes in them,” sanitation worker Taylor Rogers, recalled in the documentary “At the River I Stand.” “Garbage would be leaking. When you went home, you had to stop at the door to pull off your clothes. Maggots would fall out on you.”
The men worked long hours for low wages, with no overtime pay and no paid sick leave. Injuries on the job could lead to their getting fired. If they didn’t work, they didn’t get paid. Most of them made 65 cents per hour.
“We felt we would have to let the city know that because we were sanitation workers, we were human beings. The signs we were carrying said ‘I Am a Man,’ ” James Douglas, a sanitation worker, recalled in an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees documentary. “And we were going to demand to have the same dignity and the same courtesy any other citizen of Memphis has.”
Led by T.O. Jones, a sanitation worker who had attempted to organize the workers in a strike years earlier, and supported by the AFSCME, the men demanded the city recognize their union, increase wages and improve inhumane conditions for sanitation workers.
Jerry Wurf, the national president of the AFSCME, considered the Memphis sanitation workers’ protest more than a strike; it became a social struggle, a battle for dignity. Wurf called the strike a “race conflict and a rights conflict.”
Memphis’s then-mayor, Henry Loeb III, refused the demands of the sanitation workers union, Local 1733, refusing to take malfunctioning trucks off routes, refusing to pay overtime and refusing to improve conditions.
“It has been held that all employees of a municipality may not strike for any purpose,” Loeb said in a 1968 news conference captured in “At the River I Stand.” “Public employees cannot strike against your employer. I suggested to these men you go back to work.”
On Feb. 14, 1968, Loeb issued an ultimatum, telling the men to return to work by 7 a.m.
Some men returned to work under police escort. Negotiations between the majority of strikers and the city failed. More than 10,000 tons of garbage had piled up in Memphis, according to an AFSCME chronology.
The Rev. James Lawson, a King ally, said at a news conference: “When a public official orders a group of men to ‘get back to work and then we’ll talk’ and treats them as though they are not men, that is a racist point of view. And no matter how you dress it up in terms of whether or not a union can organize it, it is still racism. At the heart of racism is the idea ‘A man is not a man.’ ”
On Feb. 19, 1968, the NAACP and protesters organized an all-night sit-in at Memphis City Hall. The next day, the NAACP and the union called for a citywide boycott of downtown businesses.
“I don’t know of any law in Tennessee that says you have to subject yourself to indentured servitude,” P.J. Ciampa, a field organizer for AFSCME, told the striking sanitation workers. “As a free American citizen you are expressing yourself by saying, ‘I am not working for those stinking wages and conditions.’
“You are reminding, not only Memphis, but you are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages,” King told the crowd.
King insisted that there could be no civil rights without economic equality. “You are here tonight to demand that Memphis do something about the conditions that our brothers face, as they work day in and day out for the well-being of the total community. You are here to demand that Memphis will see the poor.”
On March 28, protesters marched again. King and Lawson led the march. But the protest took a violent turn when a group of young demonstrators who called themselves “the Invaders” threw objects in frustration.
King’s men pulled him out of the march, and Lawson tried to order the violent protesters to turn around. Police fatally shot a 16-year-old protester. Police ran after protesters who had gathered at Clayborn Temple church and threw tear gas into the sanctuary. Police beat demonstrators with billy clubs as they fell to the floor to escape the tear gas.
Loeb declared martial law in Memphis and called in the National Guard. The next day, more than 200 sanitation workers marched, carrying signs “I Am a Man.”
Newspapers across the country erroneously blamed King for the violence. King decided to return to Memphis to continue to support the strike.
On April 3, a weary King preached his now-famous “Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple, predicting his own death. “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life; longevity has its place.
“But I’m not concerned about that now,” he said, his voice rising in a mesmerizing cadence. “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”
Then King turned and appeared to collapse in a seat behind the lectern. King’s men surrounded him.
The next evening, as King prepared to go to dinner at the home of a local minister, a shot rang out, killing him on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Rage-fueled riots exploded across the country. Lawson urged calm in Memphis.
The mayor called in the National Guard and set a curfew. The clergy demanded again that the mayor honor the requests of the sanitation workers. Loeb again refused.
President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered James Reynolds, undersecretary of labor, to negotiate an end to the strike.
On April 8, King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, led more than 40,000 people in a silent march through the streets of Memphis, where her husband led his last march. Finally, on April 16, the Memphis City Council voted to recognize the union, promising higher wages to the black workers. The strike was over, but the mourning for King had just begun.
Most remember the 1968 strike because it drew Martin Luther King Jr. to the hotel balcony where he was assassinated. But the protesters’ picket signs have their own place in history. “I am a man,” the signs said. Not a boy. Not a garbage collector or sanitation worker. A man.
The slogan, a precursor to today’s more PC, gender-neutral “Black lives matter,” dates back long before the civil rights movement. In the 1780s, the British Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade created a seal that showed a slave kneeling with a banner above him that read: “Am I not a man and a brother?” That illustration of a Black man on his knees, presumably imploring someone to recognize his dignity, became a symbol of the emancipation movement. Almost 200 years later, Black men were free on paper but still bound by racism, thwarted in their attempts to achieve the societal markers that “made you a man” back then. A man was the head of his household, the breadwinner and the political voice. But “under Jim Crow, they did everything they could to make Blacks less than, unworthy,” says Gerald Horne, a history professor at the University of Houston. By the late 1960s, the time for asking was over. The refrain became a statement: “I am a man.”
1. Real men look for and appreciate the beautiful. Genesis 2:9.
Genesis 2:9 KJV 1900
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
2. Real men find satisfaction in accomplishing meaningful work. .
2. Real men find satisfaction in accomplishing meaningful work. .
Genesis 2:15 KJV 1900
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
3. Real men develop their capacity to think and explore the nature of the universe. .
3. Real men develop their capacity to think and explore the nature of the universe. .
Genesis 2:19 KJV 1900
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
4. Real men make moral commitments and find deep satisfaction in choosing to do what is right. .
4. Real men make moral commitments and find deep satisfaction in choosing to do what is right. .
Genesis 2:17 KJV 1900
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
5. Real men build relationships with others, valuing interdependence more than independence. .
5. Real men build relationships with others, valuing interdependence more than independence. .
Genesis 2:18 KJV 1900
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
6. Real men invest in their relationship with their spouse, finding joy in sharing all of life on earth with her. .
6. Real men invest in their relationship with their spouse, finding joy in sharing all of life on earth with her. .
Genesis 2:21–24 KJV 1900
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
1. Beauty
In Eden, Adam discovered beauty (). God had planted there “every tree … that is pleasant to the sight.” The God who has “made everything beautiful in its time” () filled Eden with beauty, and that beauty resonated in the heart of Adam.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Psalm 8:1 KJV 1900
1 O Lord our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
How beautiful is your name.
Marvelous display of God’s beauty.
ecc 3
Isaiah 6:1 KJV 1900
1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Psalm 29:2 KJV 1900
2 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Psalm 50:2 KJV 1900
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
.
Every time God created and said it is good, he was literally saying it was beautiful.
God is beautiful, he created beauty, and his creations made in his image, had also the capacity to appreciate and create beauty.
So Adam know the tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes.
Beauty can be appreciated in what you see, what you hear, what you touch, what you smell, what you feel
2. Meaningful Work .
Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics God Is Revealed in Human Art

God Is Revealed in Human Art. The Bible declares that God is beautiful, and so is his creation. The psalmist wrote: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8:1). Isaiah beheld a marvelous display of God’s beauty when he “saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isa. 6:1). Scriptures encourage us to “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 29:2; cf. 27:4).

Solomon pointed out that God has made everything “beautiful in its time” (Eccles. 3:11). The psalmist speaks of his city of Zion as “perfect in beauty” (Ps. 50:2). What God created is good like himself (Gen. 1:31; 1 Tim. 4:4), and the goodness of God is beautiful. So, insofar as creation reflects God, it is also beautiful. Not only is God beautiful and has made a beautiful world, but he has created beings who can appreciate beauty. Like him, they can also make beautiful things. Human beings are, as it were “sub-creators.” God endows certain humans with special creative gifts which reveal something of his marvelous nature.

In Eden, Adam discovered the satisfaction of meaningful work (). Genesis tells us that God “put him [Adam] in the garden … to tend and keep it.” God had worked, and He looked over what He accomplished in each of creation’s days and “saw that it was good.” God had made Adam in His likeness-image, and thus Adam’s nature cried out for something significant to accomplish, some work of his own he could look on and say, “this is good.”
Genesis 2:15 KJV 1900
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
God ordained work as the normal routine of living things.
He commands them in to be fruitful and multiply, in other words, go to work.
He assigns Adam the responsibility to dress the garden.
It was God’s intention that Adam be self sufficient.
Psalm 128:2 KJV 1900
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
Self fulfilment

24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

To Serve Others

28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29

To Glorify God

17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Because of this the Bible represents work as a moral duty, and as stewardship form God, while those who do not work
should not eat.
Dictionary of Bible Themes 5629 work, as ordained by God

work, as ordained by God

God ordained work as the normal routine of living. Every legitimate human task, therefore, is of intrinsic worth, however menial it may seem, and is potentially a means of glorifying God.

Work is ordained by God

Ge 1:27-28 See also Ex 20:9 pp Dt 5:13; Ps 104:23 Work is part of the rhythm of life.

God’s purposes in ordaining work

That people should be self-supporting Ge 3:19 See also Ps 128:2; 1Th 4:12

That people should find self-fulfilment Ecc 2:24 See also Pr 14:23; Ecc 3:22; 5:19

That people should serve others Eph 4:28 See also Pr 31:15; 1Th 2:9; 1Ti 5:8

That people should glorify God Col 3:17 See also 1Co 10:31; Eph 6:5-8 pp Col 3:22-24

Consequences of viewing work as God’s ordinance

Work is seen as a moral duty Tit 3:14 See also Pr 6:6; Ecc 9:10; 1Th 4:11; 2Th 3:7-12

Any legitimate work may be seen as God’s calling Ge 2:15 See also Ex 31:1-6; 35:30-35; Ps 78:70-71; Mt 13:55 pp Mk 6:3; Ro 13:6; 1Co 7:17,20-24

Work is seen as a stewardship from God himself Col 3:23-24 See also Mt 25:14-30 pp Lk 19:12-27; Eph 6:5-8

Criticism of those who will not work 2Th 3:10-11

2 Thessalonians 3:10–11 KJV 1900
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
2 Thes 3:10
3. The Joy of Discovery .
In Eden, Adam discovered the satisfaction of meaningful work (). Genesis tells us that God “put him [Adam] in the garden … to tend and keep it.” God had worked, and He looked over what He accomplished in each of creation’s days and “saw that it was good.” God had made Adam in His likeness-image, and thus Adam’s nature cried out for something significant to accomplish, some work of his own he could look on and say, “this is good.”
In Eden, Adam discovered the satisfaction of meaningful work (). Genesis tells us that God “put him [Adam] in the garden … to tend and keep it.” God had worked, and He looked over what He accomplished in each of creation’s days and “saw that it was good.” God had made Adam in His likeness-image, and thus Adam’s nature cried out for something significant to accomplish, some work of his own he could look on and say, “this is good.”
Genesis 2:19 KJV 1900
19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
In Eden, Adam experienced the joy of discovery (). Scripture tells us that God showed Adam “every beast of the field and every bird of the air,” and gave Adam the task of naming them. Here we need to understand the Hebrew concept of name. In Hebrew thought, a name was more than a label. The name was intended to capture and express something of the essence of the thing named. To “name” the animals and birds, Adam would have had to study each kind, to observe its ways and catalog its habits. Only when he understood each creature could he name it. Adam discovered another joy rooted in sharing God’s likeness-image. Adam discovered the joy of learning, of thinking, of classifying, of identifying that which was unique.
Man was meant to learn, discover, grow. So trade, books, instruments, cars, games, help us discover.
4. Doing Right. Being a Moral Agent. .
Genesis 2:17 KJV 1900
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Genesis 2
In Eden, Adam discovered the peace that comes from doing what is right (). God had planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden, and told Adam that of this one tree: “You shall not eat.” Some have viewed the tree as a trap, and pondered why God should want Adam to fail. But there is a different explanation for the existence of the tree. God had created Adam in His own likeness-image. And God is a moral being, committed to doing what is right. If Adam was to explore this aspect of personhood, he must be given the opportunity to make moral choices. And so the tree. And so too, for the uncountable months or years or decades that Adam lived in Eden and worked and studied there, Adam must have frequently passed by the forbidden tree. He did not eat. And in this Adam found inner peace, for in obeying God he had done what was right.
In Eden, Adam discovered the peace that comes from doing what is right (). God had planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden, and told Adam that of this one tree: “You shall not eat.” Some have viewed the tree as a trap, and pondered why God should want Adam to fail. But there is a different explanation for the existence of the tree. God had created Adam in His own likeness-image. And God is a moral being, committed to doing what is right. If Adam was to explore this aspect of personhood, he must be given the opportunity to make moral choices. And so the tree. And so too, for the uncountable months or years or decades that Adam lived in Eden and worked and studied there, Adam must have frequently passed by the forbidden tree. He did not eat. And in this Adam found inner peace, for in obeying God he had done what was right.
5. The Need for Companionship. .
Genesis 2:18 KJV 1900
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
In Eden, Adam discovered his need for companionship (). There was one dimension of personhood that Adam had not and could not experience. Adam was alone, with no one like him whom he could love and with whom he could share life’s experiences. In this need, too, Adam shared God’s likeness-image. As Three-in-One—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—God had always possessed, within Himself the “helper comparable.”
God knew what Adam lacked, and said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” God had always planned to “make him a helper comparable to him” (). But Adam did not realize how lonely he was until he studied all the animals and birds, and the realization dawned that he truly was alone. As wonderful as the animals were, Adam found no “helper comparable to him” (2:20). Only when Adam recognized his need did God form Eve from Adam’s rib.
6. Compatible or comparable Help meet. .
Genesis 2:21–24 KJV 1900
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Gen
In Eden, God gave Adam Eve as a helper truly comparable to him (). The significance of the account of Eve’s creation lies in the fact that God used a rib taken from Adam as Eve’s source. If God had begun again with earth’s dust, it might have been argued that woman was a second and subordinate creation. But God used Adam’s own substance. And when the Lord brought Eve to Adam, he immediately recognized the significance of God’s act. Adam said,
This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man. ()
Eve shared with Adam the likeness-image God granted to humankind. Each was fully a person as God is a Person. At last, Adam had a companion with whom he could share life fully and completely.
1. Real men look for and appreciate the beautiful.
2. Real men find satisfaction in accomplishing meaningful work.
3. Real men develop their capacity to think and explore the nature of the universe.
4. Real men make moral commitments and find deep satisfaction in choosing to do what is right.
5. Real men build relationships with others, valuing interdependence more than independence.
6. Real men invest in their relationship with their spouse, finding joy in sharing all of life on earth with her.
The story of Adam’s creation reminds us that a man’s life is to be rich and varied and that we find fulfillment in developing all the wonderful capacities of personhood with which God so graciously gifted humankind.[1]
[1] Richards, L. (1999). Every man in the Bible (pp. 5–6). Nashville: T. Nelson.
In response, Am I Not A Man And A Brother? became a catchphrase used by British and American abolitionists.
The question "Am I Not A Man?" was brought up again during the Dred Scott decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.[3] During the Civil Rights Movementat the Memphis sanitation strike in 1968, "I AM A MAN!" signs were used to answer the same question.[4]
I am a man, assert the rights of all people to be treated with dignity.
April 4 began uneventfully. Dr. King and his aides spent the day at the Lorraine Motel, waiting for Reverend James Lawson and Reverend Andrew Young to return with news of whether the federal court would lift the ban on holding a sanitation workers march. The mood was light. Dr. King shared jokes and laughs with his brother, A. D. King, and the pair enjoyed a phone call with their parents. Rev. Young finally arrived around 5 o'clock. King playfully started a pillow fight with Young for not keeping him informed throughout the day. Within an hour, Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles arrived to take the group to dinner at his home. Unbeknownst to them, an assassin lay in wait across Mulberry Street, with a rifle ready to fire. King died that day.
The rain was torrential, flooding streets and overflowing sewers. Still, the Memphis public works department required its sanitation workers — all black men — to continue to work in the downpour Feb. 1, 1968.
That day, two sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, took shelter from the rain in the back of their garbage truck. As Cole and Walker rode in the back of the truck, an electrical switch malfunctioned. The compactor turned on.
Cole and Walker were crushed by the garbage truck compactor. The public works department refused to compensate their families.
Eleven days after their deaths, as many as 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis walked off the job, protesting horrible working conditions, abuse, racism and discrimination by the city, according to the King Institute at Stanford University.
The Memphis sanitation workers’ strike would win the support of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. — and lead to his assassination less than two months later.
The men King was defending worked in filth, dragging heavy tubs of garbage onto trucks.
“Most of the tubs had holes in them,” sanitation worker Taylor Rogers, recalled in the documentary “At the River I Stand.” “Garbage would be leaking. When you went home, you had to stop at the door to pull off your clothes. Maggots would fall out on you.”
The men worked long hours for low wages, with no overtime pay and no paid sick leave. Injuries on the job could lead to their getting fired. If they didn’t work, they didn’t get paid. Most of them made 65 cents per hour.
“We felt we would have to let the city know that because we were sanitation workers, we were human beings. The signs we were carrying said ‘I Am a Man,’ ” James Douglas, a sanitation worker, recalled in an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees documentary. “And we were going to demand to have the same dignity and the same courtesy any other citizen of Memphis has.”
Led by T.O. Jones, a sanitation worker who had attempted to organize the workers in a strike years earlier, and supported by the AFSCME, the men demanded the city recognize their union, increase wages and improve inhumane conditions for sanitation workers.
Jerry Wurf, the national president of the AFSCME, considered the Memphis sanitation workers’ protest more than a strike; it became a social struggle, a battle for dignity. Wurf called the strike a “race conflict and a rights conflict.”
Memphis’s then-mayor, Henry Loeb III, refused the demands of the sanitation workers union, Local 1733, refusing to take malfunctioning trucks off routes, refusing to pay overtime and refusing to improve conditions.
“It has been held that all employees of a municipality may not strike for any purpose,” Loeb said in a 1968 news conference captured in “At the River I Stand.” “Public employees cannot strike against your employer. I suggested to these men you go back to work.”
On Feb. 14, 1968, Loeb issued an ultimatum, telling the men to return to work by 7 a.m.
Some men returned to work under police escort. Negotiations between the majority of strikers and the city failed. More than 10,000 tons of garbage had piled up in Memphis, according to an AFSCME chronology.
The Rev. James Lawson, a King ally, said at a news conference: “When a public official orders a group of men to ‘get back to work and then we’ll talk’ and treats them as though they are not men, that is a racist point of view. And no matter how you dress it up in terms of whether or not a union can organize it, it is still racism. At the heart of racism is the idea ‘A man is not a man.’ ”
On Feb. 19, 1968, the NAACP and protesters organized an all-night sit-in at Memphis City Hall. The next day, the NAACP and the union called for a citywide boycott of downtown businesses.
“I don’t know of any law in Tennessee that says you have to subject yourself to indentured servitude,” P.J. Ciampa, a field organizer for AFSCME, told the striking sanitation workers. “As a free American citizen you are expressing yourself by saying, ‘I am not working for those stinking wages and conditions.’
“You are reminding, not only Memphis, but you are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages,” King told the crowd.
King insisted that there could be no civil rights without economic equality. “You are here tonight to demand that Memphis do something about the conditions that our brothers face, as they work day in and day out for the well-being of the total community. You are here to demand that Memphis will see the poor.”
On March 28, protesters marched again. King and Lawson led the march. But the protest took a violent turn when a group of young demonstrators who called themselves “the Invaders” threw objects in frustration.
King’s men pulled him out of the march, and Lawson tried to order the violent protesters to turn around. Police fatally shot a 16-year-old protester. Police ran after protesters who had gathered at Clayborn Temple church and threw tear gas into the sanctuary. Police beat demonstrators with billy clubs as they fell to the floor to escape the tear gas.
Loeb declared martial law in Memphis and called in the National Guard. The next day, more than 200 sanitation workers marched, carrying signs “I Am a Man.”
Newspapers across the country erroneously blamed King for the violence. King decided to return to Memphis to continue to support the strike.
On April 3, a weary King preached his now-famous “Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple, predicting his own death. “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life; longevity has its place.
“But I’m not concerned about that now,” he said, his voice rising in a mesmerizing cadence. “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”
Then King turned and appeared to collapse in a seat behind the lectern. King’s men surrounded him.
The next evening, as King prepared to go to dinner at the home of a local minister, a shot rang out, killing him on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Rage-fueled riots exploded across the country. Lawson urged calm in Memphis.
The mayor called in the National Guard and set a curfew. The clergy demanded again that the mayor honor the requests of the sanitation workers. Loeb again refused.
President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered James Reynolds, undersecretary of labor, to negotiate an end to the strike.
On April 8, King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, led more than 40,000 people in a silent march through the streets of Memphis, where her husband led his last march. Finally, on April 16, the Memphis City Council voted to recognize the union, promising higher wages to the black workers. The strike was over, but the mourning for King had just begun.
Most remember the 1968 strike because it drew Martin Luther King Jr. to the hotel balcony where he was assassinated. But the protesters’ picket signs have their own place in history. “I am a man,” the signs said. Not a boy. Not a garbage collector or sanitation worker. A man.
The slogan, a precursor to today’s more PC, gender-neutral “Black lives matter,” dates back long before the civil rights movement. In the 1780s, the British Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade created a seal that showed a slave kneeling with a banner above him that read: “Am I not a man and a brother?” That illustration of a Black man on his knees, presumably imploring someone to recognize his dignity, became a symbol of the emancipation movement. Almost 200 years later, Black men were free on paper but still bound by racism, thwarted in their attempts to achieve the societal markers that “made you a man” back then. A man was the head of his household, the breadwinner and the political voice. But “under Jim Crow, they did everything they could to make Blacks less than, unworthy,” says Gerald Horne, a history professor at the University of Houston. By the late 1960s, the time for asking was over. The refrain became a statement: “I am a man.”
The slogan, a precursor to today’s more PC, gender-neutral “Black lives matter,” dates back long before the civil rights movement. In the 1780s, the British Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade created a seal that showed a slave kneeling with a banner above him that read: “Am I not a man and a brother?” That illustration of a Black man on his knees, presumably imploring someone to recognize his dignity, became a symbol of the emancipation movement. Almost 200 years later, Black men were free on paper but still bound by racism, thwarted in their attempts to achieve the societal markers that “made you a man” back then. A man was the head of his household, the breadwinner and the political voice. But “under Jim Crow, they did everything they could to make Blacks less than, unworthy,” says Gerald Horne, a history professor at the University of Houston. By the late 1960s, the time for asking was over. The refrain became a statement: “I am a man.”
The Civil Rights movement contains some of the most hideous and the most beautiful examples of human evil and human possibility. After emancipation in 1862, and until the mid-1960s, they lived under a series of laws that mandated segregation from whites. The Civil Rights movement attacked these laws and their premise.
One of the slogans that would strike down legalized segregation was “I Am A Man.” It challenged the centuries of dehumanization that had justified both slavery and Jim Crow. The beautiful, simple slogan, and its delivery, is pictured here:
New International Version (NIV)
David’s Charge to Solomon
2 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.
2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
We can understand God’s care in designing Eden when we remember that God had given Adam the gift of His likeness-image. Adam, like God, was a person with all the capacities of personhood. Eden was designed to give Adam the opportunity to explore the wonderful capacities God had granted him.
In Eden, Adam discovered beauty (). God had planted there “every tree … that is pleasant to the sight.” The God who has “made everything beautiful in its time” () filled Eden with beauty, and that beauty resonated in the heart of Adam.
In Eden, Adam discovered the satisfaction of meaningful work (). Genesis tells us that God “put him [Adam] in the garden … to tend and keep it.” God had worked, and He looked over what He accomplished in each of creation’s days and “saw that it was good.” God had made Adam in His likeness-image, and thus Adam’s nature cried out for something significant to accomplish, some work of his own he could look on and say, “this is good.”
In Eden, Adam experienced the joy of discovery (). Scripture tells us that God showed Adam “every beast of the field and every bird of the air,” and gave Adam the task of naming them. Here we need to understand the Hebrew concept of name. In Hebrew thought, a name was more than a label. The name was intended to capture and express something of the essence of the thing named. To “name” the animals and birds, Adam would have had to study each kind, to observe its ways and catalog its habits. Only when he understood each creature could he name it. Adam discovered another joy rooted in sharing God’s likeness-image. Adam discovered the joy of learning, of thinking, of classifying, of identifying that which was unique.
In Eden, Adam discovered the peace that comes from doing what is right (). God had planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden, and told Adam that of this one tree: “You shall not eat.” Some have viewed the tree as a trap, and pondered why God should want Adam to fail. But there is a different explanation for the existence of the tree. God had created Adam in His own likeness-image. And God is a moral being, committed to doing what is right. If Adam was to explore this aspect of personhood, he must be given the opportunity to make moral choices. And so the tree. And so too, for the uncountable months or years or decades that Adam lived in Eden and worked and studied there, Adam must have frequently passed by the forbidden tree. He did not eat. And in this Adam found inner peace, for in obeying God he had done what was right.
In Eden, Adam discovered his need for companionship (). There was one dimension of personhood that Adam had not and could not experience. Adam was alone, with no one like him whom he could love and with whom he could share life’s experiences. In this need, too, Adam shared God’s likeness-image. As Three-in-One—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—God had always possessed, within Himself the “helper comparable.”
God knew what Adam lacked, and said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” God had always planned to “make him a helper comparable to him” (). But Adam did not realize how lonely he was until he studied all the animals and birds, and the realization dawned that he truly was alone. As wonderful as the animals were, Adam found no “helper comparable to him” (2:20). Only when Adam recognized his need did God form Eve from Adam’s rib.
In Eden, God gave Adam Eve as a helper truly comparable to him (). The significance of the account of Eve’s creation lies in the fact that God used a rib taken from Adam as Eve’s source. If God had begun again with earth’s dust, it might have been argued that woman was a second and subordinate creation. But God used Adam’s own substance. And when the Lord brought Eve to Adam, he immediately recognized the significance of God’s act. Adam said,
This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man. ()
Eve shared with Adam the likeness-image God granted to humankind. Each was fully a person as God is a Person. At last, Adam had a companion with whom he could share life fully and completely.
The insights to be gained from further help us as we consider what it means to be a real man. Like Adam, we men are made in God’s likeness-image, and real men follow the pattern Adam set in Eden.
1. Real men look for and appreciate the beautiful.
2. Real men find satisfaction in accomplishing meaningful work.
3. Real men develop their capacity to think and explore the nature of the universe.
4. Real men make moral commitments and find deep satisfaction in choosing to do what is right.
5. Real men build relationships with others, valuing interdependence more than independence.
6. Real men invest in their relationship with their spouse, finding joy in sharing all of life on earth with her.
The story of Adam’s creation reminds us that a man’s life is to be rich and varied and that we find fulfillment in developing all the wonderful capacities of personhood with which God so graciously gifted humankind.[1]
.[2]
I am a man, made in the image of god
Productivity
Sexuality
Culture
I am a man, made in the image of god
I sometimes fall, but I get up, because I’m a man, made in the image of god.
I have been enslaved, dehumanized, abused, but I have survived, because I’m a man, made in the image of god
Some claimed I have evolved over millions of years. But I’m a man, made in the image of god
One day I will stand again in the presence of the almighty
I a sinner saved by grace will behold the almighty face.
I will tell the story, oh him who made me, later redeemed me and came to get me because I’m a man made in the image of god.
300000 British troops was to be distorted, when Winston Churchill decided to rescue them using civilian boats and saving England, because he was a man.
[1] Richards, L. (1999). Every man in the Bible (pp. 5–6). Nashville: T. Nelson.
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