‘I Am A Man’ home preserved, son reflects on father’s memories

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- MLGW dedicated a home in North Memphis that was pivotal in the Memphis Sanitation Strikes.

The man who lived there, Joe C. Warren, was responsible for coining the phrase “I Am A Man.”

The home was previously set to be demolished as part of the expansion of the MLGW service center but thankfully was saved.

The small home holds rich a history.

"It’s a great feeling to be here and it’s a great feeling to try and hold onto the legacy and not to tear it down, and I’m proud of my father and I’m proud of this fact too," said Joe E. Warren.

Joe E. Warren is talking about his father, Joe C. Warren; the elder Warren lived at the corner of Meagher and Dunkley. He was fired in 1965 with 32 other sanitation workers for alleged employment violations.

In 1968 he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Sanitation Strike. He held organizational meetings at this house, coining the iconic phrase “I Am A Man.”

"I’ve seen him on the phone talking to various people. He had a telephone book about this long when he called and talked to all kinds of people. All day long he stayed on the phone.”

At Wednesday's dedication fellow sanitation workers and friends shared memories of Warren.

"It’s important that this house sitting here on the corner will be a house that many people pass on a daily basis," said MLGW CEO Jerry Collins.

The other homes behind Warren’s soon won’t be here, causing controversy at the end of the ceremony.

A concerned citizen, upset with how the homes were acquired by MLGW to expand their service center, voiced her concerns.

"There's an injustice going on here today in this community," said Janice Mondie.

MLGW maintains everything was done fairly. Collins said he wasn’t notified until August 1 by his staff of the significance of the blue house on the corner.

Warren’s son is still confused why it took so long for someone to realize the history, but he’s thankful it will be here to stay for future generations to see.

"That’s what I’m proud of, that’s that I’m proud of," he said.

The house will also receive a historical marker.