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Today Marks First Day of Black History Month

via opengathering.org

via opengathering.org

Every year in February, we take part in celebrating Black History Month.  Throughout the next four weeks, we will highlight and celebrate the rich history of African Americans, the achievements of the civil rights movement, and the impact that various civil rights leaders, labor leaders, and union members have had on the fight for civil and labor rights throughout history, and today.

Black History Month’s origins began in 1926, after historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans dedicated the second week in February as “Negro History Week” to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.  In 1976, the celebration was officially recognized and expanded to span the entire month, and every U.S. president since then has celebrated Black History Month during the month of February.

Paying tribute to African American leaders and community members who have fought for fair wages, dignity in the workplace, and the freedom to organize is still important today–despite the progress that many civil rights leaders made in spite of considerable barriers in the 1960’s, our country still faces threats to the Voting Rights Act, racial discrimination in our cities, and many other setbacks to this progress. Even during the ongoing 2016 Presidential campaign, we have seen race-baiting and other derogatory rhetoric from the likes of Donald Trump. The ideas being put forth by many of the Republican presidential nominees do not represent the America that Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of–we must continue to honor his and and many others’ significant contributions to the labor movement as we fight for equality in the workplace and beyond, for people of all races and backgrounds.

At MLK Conference, UFCW Plays Large Role in Fighting for Justice

MLK Conf

From left to right: Agueda Arias UFCW Local 888, Karina Rosado, UFCW Local 400, Angela Johnson UFCW Local 1000 and Kimberly Mitchell UFCW Local 400, attend a session at the MLK Conference.

The AFL-CIO held its annual Martin Luther King (MLK) Conference last week in Washington, D.C., where UFCW members from across the country attended and participated. The conference, titled “Change The Rules, Be The Power,” revolved around organizing, politics, and other issues, openly discussing race, and activism — including the in-the-neighborhoods activism by its 1,000 delegates. At least one speaker urged the federation to openly endorse and back the Black Lives Matter movement, which has pushed the discussion about racial justice to the forefront of U.S. consciousness. A special AFL-CIO race and justice commission, co-chaired by UFCW International President Marc Perrone, is holding a series of hearings nationwide to get that discussion going.

The MLK Conference also covered issues ranging from ending mass incarceration of minorities and immigrants, to the looming U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would make every state and local government a right-to-work fiefdom. One speaker noted that the right-to-work ruling would disproportionately harm minorities and women.

The conference’s big secondary theme was the need to greatly increase organizing, both by the labor movement and its allies (faith groups, community groups, women’s groups, civil rights groups, environmentalists and others) in order to increase membership and supporters and marshal resources and people to call out and fight against the issues that would harm hard-working men and women in the 2016 election and beyond.

EL MLK Award

UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez was honored with the distinguish, “At The River I Stand” Award.

The conference agenda was packed with incredible speakers from union presidents, to community activists, representatives from worker centers, young workers and more. UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez was honored with the distinguished “At The River I Stand” Award at the Sunday night awards dinner. During the conference, UFCW activists participated in many dynamic plenaries, workshops sessions, awards, events and community service projects. Some of the community service projects included cleaning the homes of senior citizens and preparing meal kits and food bags at food pantries. The conference ended on Monday with conference participants joining community members from Ward 8 in Washington, D.C. for their MLK parade.

 

 

karina local 400

FCW Local 400 members help with cleaning and doing minor repairs to senior citizens’ homes during Senior Service Project Day.

local 888

During the service day, Agueda Arias from UFCW Local 888 prepares bags for potatoes and other food goods at a local food bank.

kellie 1

Kellie from UFCW Local 655 cleans windows during Senior Service Project Day.

MLK DC Parade

UFCW activists march in the D.C. Ward 8 MLK parade.

UFCW 227 Members Advocate for Workers During “We Are Kentuckians Rally”

UFCW 227 members joined allies and friends in the Kentucky State Capitol on January 5 at the “We Are Kentuckians Rally” for the first day of the legislative session. During the rally, members joined activists from the faith, racial justice, voting rights, environmental rights and LGBTQ communities to share their ideas and visions to help create a better future for working Kentuckians and their families. Kentucky’s new Tea Party Governor Matt Bevin has already made national news by reducing the minimum wage for state workers. He is also revoking the voting rights of almost 200,000 Kentuckians who are convicted felons, but have served their time and are looking to be productive members of society.  227 Rally Group Statue