Screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher to Dramatize the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike in ‘I Am a Man’

By Sameer Rao Oct 05, 2017

Geoffrey Fletcher‘s next film project will explore a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Deadline reported yesterday (October 4) that the "Precious" screenwriter will adapt “Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign" into a new feature film called "I Am a Man."

Historian Michael K. Honey’s 2007 book follows the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike. Nearly 1,300 of the Tennessee city’s Black sanitation workers protested low wages, dangerous work conditions and the lack of a union by walking off the job. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. joined the workers’ push for racial and labor equity, delivering his "I’ve Been to the Mountaintop" speech in a show of solidarity with their fight. That speech was his last, as James Earl Ray assassinated him the following day. The film’s name comes from the phrase lettered on placards that striking sanitation workers carried through the streets of Memphis.

"In my opinion, some of the best stories combine well-known history with the unknown history surrounding it," Fletcher told Deadline. "This is one of those stories. It is an honor to work on a project of such significance. In these desperate and divided times, this is a story of genuine superheroes."

Fletcher will write the film through Sycamore Productions. He previously adapted "Push: A Novel" by Sapphire into "Precious." That adaptation won him the "Writing (Adapted Screenplay)" award at the 82nd Oscars. His International Movie Database page notes that he was the first Black screenwriter to win in that category.