Memphis Grizzlies
MLK50 City Edition

© Ernest C. Withers, and Courtesy of Withers Family Trust

In collaboration with Nike and inspired by the storied history that shaped a movement and the City of Memphis, our 2018 ‘MLK50’ City Edition uniform will support the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel’s remembrance of the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and is set to debut at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration game on January 15 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers in a nationally-televised game on TNT.

The story behind the uniform’s design dates back to February 1, 1968, when two Memphis Sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning garbage truck. This tragic flashpoint aggravated by years of dangerous working conditions, poverty level wages, and unequal treatment led black sanitation workers to strike. Their demand for human dignity would coin the slogan ‘I Am A Man’ and eventually bring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis weeks later to march alongside protestors. It was on that trip that Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968.

The uniform’s story, stark use of color, iconic type and design is intended to shine a national light on the events that led up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the tragic event itself and to support the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel’s drive to deepen our understanding of the ongoing movement forward for social justice that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. defined in life and in death.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, we are humbled to shed light on the events leading up to the tragic day itself through the introduction and wearing of our MLK50 City Edition uniform. Alongside our longstanding partners at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, we want to generate local, national and global awareness of the Museum’s vital message of social and economic justice and call to reflection, ‘where do we go from here.’

In the coming days and weeks, we will announce further plans and events scheduled in conjunction with the Museum around our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration weekend.

-- Grizzlies President of Business Operations, Jason Wexler


It’s simple, stark and raw. It’s inspired by the slogan ‘I Am A Man’ and intended to pay remembrance and respect to the events and those individuals in 1968 who fought for social and economic justice in Memphis.

Black & White Uniform Color

The black and white uniform color base was chosen to represent the protest signs directly but also remind us of the dignity being fought for and the suits many of the marchers donned.

Memphis Wordmark

The “MEMPHIS” wordmark across the chest is directly inspired by the iconic type of the ‘I Am A Man’ signs, from typeface to the underline accent, used in Memphis during the 1968 strike and protests.

Uniform Side Panel Design

The panel design uses the wordmark angles and lines to form a tall and bold ‘M’ inspired by the typeface used in the word ‘Man’ on the signs while nodding back to Memphis itself.

Beale Blue Color Accents

Although subtle, the use of Beale Blue accents nods back to location. Steps from Beale Street, adjacent to FedExForum, Clayborn Temple acted as the starting point for a number of the 1968 marches and today is the site for the new ‘I Am A Man’ Plaza opening in April, 2018.


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