This past Monday, the same day as our national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, I was shocked to hear garbage being picked up on our streets in Montclair.

I did not lose sight of the fact that the night before his assassination in April 1968, MLK spoke to a group of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, in what would become his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address.

His visit was in response to two Memphis garbage collectors, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. The city’s response to this incident was minimal, symbolic to a long pattern of neglect and abuse of its black employees, and led to 1,300 black men from the Memphis Department of Public Works going on strike.

For whatever the reason, it was a mistake that Montclair chose to keep garbage collection on this important day of celebration and reflection. These actions do not represent our community — and certainly our own garbage collectors, many of whom are African American, deserve to have MLK Day be a paid holiday. Hopefully, by calling this out publicly, our town administration can do better next year.

(Editor’s note: The writer of this letter is married to Matthew Frankel, a member of Montclair Local’s board of trustees.)

Laura Linn


Montclair Local's Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local.

Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email, or mail "Letters to the Editor," 309 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer's name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.

Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be eligible for potential publication in that week's Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.

Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our "Town Square" banner. "Town Square" essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to at least seven days prior to publication.