Last week, I had the great honor to receive the Benjamin L. Hooks “Keeper of the Flame” Award from the Labor Committee of the NAACP’s Board of Directors. Both the new president, Cornell Brooks, and Lorraine Miller, who served as interim president before him, were present. I felt humbled by the honor.
As our nation marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we recognize the long-standing relationship between labor and the civil rights movement in our efforts to fight for economic justice. Throughout history, labor unions have joined with the civil rights movement in fighting for equality for all. Here are seven key moments that helped forever intertwine the cause of civil rights with the labor movement.
Fifty years ago this week, the U.S. Senate passed the version of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would be passed by the House and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The bill faced a filibuster of 14 hours and 13 minutes by the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Between the passage by the Senate and debate by the House, three young civil rights workers—Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Earl Chaney—disappeared into the night on June 21, 1964, driving in the rural area near Philadelphia, Miss. Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney were later found dead, having been murdered for trying to register African American voters in Mississippi.
How many times have you heard some labor hater claim that unions only care about their own members? The claims are baloney, of course. Unions advocate for more than just men and women who pack union cards.
Last week in Arizona, the tea party-dominated legislature passed a bill that will allow businesses to slam their doors shut on anyone they say doing business with would violate their religious beliefs. While the bill was aimed primarily at the LGBTQ community, in effect, it could allow business owners to discriminate against anyone.
Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has until Friday to sign or veto the bill. Call 888-968-2464 and urge Brewer to veto the bill.
It took years of hard work, but Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2262 member and former local president Charles Horhn didn't give up on his dream. Horhn, a member of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1966 March Against Fear in Mississippi and worked with the Mississippi AFL-CIO, the NAACP, as well as other community and faith groups to register voters of color all over the state starting in the 1960s.
Text HISTORY to 235246 to hear workers reflect on Black History Month (standard data and message rates may apply).
The legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died Monday in New York City. Since the 1930s, Seeger, who was 94, lent his musical talents and staunch support to workers fighting for their unions, African Americans and other people of color marching for their civil rights and all people demanding peace and a green world with clean water and air.