MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Elaine Taylor learned to fight in the days when she stood with her father behind Dr. Martin Luther King when sanitation workers went on strike for better working conditions in 1968.
“I can remember when the strike was on and the stench of the area where we lived, the trash piled up,” Taylor said.
Mayor Jim Strickland announced $70,000 grants for these men last year.
Taylor thought for sure her 87-year-old father Kelly Lofton would be included. She called City Hall.
“They told me his name wasn’t there. They couldn’t find his name,” she said. “I get this call from Josh Didawick with the city telling me my father wouldn’t be eligible for the grant.”
She said the human resources employee provided city records showing they hired Lofton in 1972.
But she knew that was wrong.
"To me, they were not willing to look any further for the sanitation workers. They were just going on the faulty records they had, which I thought was pretty sad because it’s not the 1968 sanitation workers’ fault the records were bad," she said.
She set out on her own to prove it.
“This is from the Social Security department of earnings,” she said as she referenced a black and white piece of record paper.
She paid $115 for earnings records from the federal government.
The records had evidence of her father’s employment with the city beginning in 1966, two years before the strike.
She said he actually started working for the city in 1951, which is why he was honored with 40 years of service in 1991.
She also had that pin with the record of 40 years.
According to the earnings records, Lofton's earnings went down in the first half of 1968, when the strike was taking place.
She submitted the records to the city.
“I was called yesterday and I was actually told by Josh Didawick that my father was approved for the grant,” she said Wednesday. “He said some type of new information came up. I guess he didn’t know I was the one who provided the information."
She said they plan to use the money to hire a nurse to help her dad at home. He lives alone in a small Binghampton apartment.
But she thinks there could be others who could also use the help.
"The city has failed them because they haven’t put forth the effort to find out what their employment records are,” she said.
She knew she won a small fight, wondered why it had to be so hard.
Representatives from the city's communications department said Wednesday they could not confirm information that Lofton had been approved for the grant.
They did not offer an explanation.