Fruit of Labor September 2015 Newsletter
View this email in your browser
Fruit of Labor
World Cultural Center Newsletter
produced by: Black Workers For Justice’s Hip Hop 4 Justice
edited by: Mari Caldwell-Robinson & Tiffany Debnam
Address: 4200 Lake Ridge Rd, Raleigh NC 27604
(919) 231-2660 – Anytime (919) 876-7187 – Day
36 Reasons Why You Should Thank a Union:Holiday pay…Laws ending sweatshops in the United States…Unemployment insurance…the 40-hour workweek…child labor laws. These are just five of the 36 reasons you should thank a union, ascompiled on the UnionPlus blog. Read ’em & share!
Today in Labor History:
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Union ( an all African American workers union) founded at a meeting in New York City. A. Philip Randolph. a
veteran African-American freedom struggle fightr became the union’s first organizer and President – 1925
– compiled/edited by Union Communication Services
Fight for $15 Movement Sweeps South
Birmingham, Greensboro pass major wage hikes // Charlotte candidates go on record about $15, union rights
Did you hear what happened yesterday?
On the heels of $15 victories in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and elsewhere, workers in the South scored several major victories.
All out to Charleston for the Days of GraceSeptember 5 & 6!
We will carry forward from the momentum of these victories and join thousands more in Charleston for the Days of Grace on Sept 5 & 6. Join us!
More info at available atCharleston’s Days of Grace website here
Workers and the community celebrate after the Birmingham City Council voted to raise the citywide minimum wage to $10.10! This is the first minimum wage victory in the South since the low wage workers movement began in 2013. Workers there have vowed to use this momentum to continue to push to $15 and build their union! Read more: http://bit.ly/1hL7EM2
Working America has been building a campaign to pressure the Greensboro City Council to pass a host of resolutions to improve working conditions for city workers in Greensboro. Their work paid off yesterday as the council met and voted to improve pay and vacation time, including raising the minimum for Greensboro city workers to $12/hour and up to $15/hour by 2020! Read more: http://bit.ly/1NkEujH
A packed house of workers and the community came out to the Fight for 15 mayoral candidates forum in Charlotte organized by Action NC. Six candidates vying to become mayor of Charlotte attended and answered workers questions about their commitment to $15/hour, unions, and workers rights. Two candidates expressed support for raising city workers pay to $15/hour and several committed to do more to protect workers’ rights to organize and form unions if elected mayor. Read more: http://bit.ly/1K5N97C
“NC Attorney General Cooper!” Re-schedule retrial of police Randall Kerrick for the Voluntary Manslaughter of Black man Jonathan Ferrell
First,.. thank you to everyone that has been working to bring Justice for the unjust police murder of brother Jonathan Ferrell. You have fought through 2 Grand Jury hearings, fought to keep the City of Charlotte from paying for murdering police officer Randall Kerrick’s civil defense, helped pass the Charlotte Civil Liberties Resolution, conducted protest, Die- Ins, conducted a public forum, lobbied for the State Prohibition of Discriminatory Profiling bill, attended the court trial and offered prayers and support to the Ferrell family.
Unfortunately, your work is not done. We will not have justice for Jonathan Ferrell until the NC Attorney General agrees to schedule a retrial of Randall Kerrick for the Voluntary Manslaughter of Jonathan. In the next 2 weeks, we need your help gathering 50,000 signatures demanding the retrial of Randall Kerrick. Please take 2 minutes to sign the petition and another 2 minutes contacting your friends, family and social network asking them to sign this petition.
On August 27th a statewide conference call was held to plan a Course of Action to ensure that the NC Attorney General, Roy Copper schedules a retrial. Lets get to 1000 signatures on the petition .
More to come!
Submitted by Robert Dawkins
SAFE Coalition NC
SAFE Coalition NC is a grassroots community coalition working to build public trust and accountability in NC law enforcement. We believe that critical dialogue, citizen oversight and legislative action are required to design a safe, accountable, fair and equitable system of criminal justice in our state.
“Days of Grace” Sets Unified Pace for Southern Resistance
by Lamont Lilly
Over 800 gathered in the city of Charleston, S.C., September 5-6 for the Days of Grace Mass March and Strategy Conference against racism and for economic justice. Activists, organizers and attendees traveled from all over the United States. Guest speaker, Clarence Thomas, of the International Longshore Workers Union Local 10, came in from Oakland, Calif. Several of their Bay Area leading organizers all journeyed together from West to East, including dock workers all the way from Seattle.
National activist, DeRay McKesson came in from St. Louis, MO. Organizers with the Fight for $15 pressed their way from as far as Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. The Boston-based Mass Action Against Police Brutality came down from Massachusetts. Workers World Party sent a delegation representing Durham, N.C., Virginia, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York; while the Southern Workers Assembly proved to be one of the most energetic contingents in the march. Such solidarity was an affirmation of our collective sense of urgency.
As old and young, Black and white, women and men stood together, we remembered the fallen nine of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in strength and solidarity, innocent victims of the racist shooting spree on June 17. We lifted the name of Walter Scott, fatally shot in the back by a cop in North Charleston, in the name of justice, truth and liberation. We honored the countless victims of police terror and continued state violence, nationwide. As nearly a thousand marched through downtown Charleston, our display of unity, resistance and sheer determination could not be ignored. Our will to fight could not help but be heard as tourists and onlookers took note. National media sources kept pace and stayed close.
As you looked over the crowd, there were placards and banners commemorating the work and sacrifices of Denmark Vesey, Robert Smalls, and Harriet Tubman — all anti-slavery fighters. Slogans such “Finish the revolution,” “Stop the war on Black America,” and “Black Women Matter” were all fan favorites. Along the march, local ministers sang “We Shall Overcome,” while more militant-minded youth chanted “Black Power!” and “No justice, no peace!” As the morning sun began to rise, we concluded with an enthusiastic and thunderous rally on Marion Square.
Key issues included police terror and discriminatory enforcement; the minimum wage and the exploitation of low-wage workers; health care, public education, collective bargaining and new strategies toward achieving Black liberation. It was quite refreshing to see such a wide range of local and national organizations actually working together, very intentionally setting their differences aside for the sake of poor, working-class and oppressed communities.
Keynote speaker, the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, took attendees to the mountaintop of truth and grace. “We’re in the embryonic stages of the third reconstruction,” Barber said, noting that many of the same issues from 100 years ago are still with us today. “The first consciousness we have to change is the consciousness of the people,” he said, noting that it will take a mass movement to move state legislatures to win progressive concessions for the oppressed. Immediately following, Clarence Thomas gave a stirring speech calling for workers to shut down the economy, mentioning the recent May Day shutdown of the docks on the West Coast.
Though supporters of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were in attendance, guest speakers and conference organizers reminded the people that neither Republicans nor Democrats will grant the poor and working class genuine people power — a valid point that was carefully articulated later in the day.
In a beautiful show of internationalism, a solidarity message from the National Network on Cuba was read from the stage.
Working-class unity not usually seen in the U.S. South
Following the march was a mass convening at the International Longshoremen Association Hall on Morrison Drive that hosted workshops, vendors and teach-ins. Angaza Laughinghouse, Vice-President of the United Electrical Workers Local 150 and Black Workers for Justice, led a session discussing the economic plight of Southern workers who are mostly un-unionized and without collective bargaining.
Local Black Lives Matter organizer Muhiyyidin d’Baha conducted a teach-in on “Strategizing Against Police Terror.” T-shirts bearing the images ofDenmark Vesey and the 1739 Stono Rebellion, the largest rebellion in the colonies led by slaves outside Charleston, were quite inspiring.
During the September 6 final plenary, Ajamu Dillahunt, long-time organizer with Black Workers for Justice, reminded us, “This march was very unique. We had the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, Black Lives Matter and the Fight for $15.” Dillahunt was absolutely correct. This brand of working-class unity is something the U.S. South hasn’t seen for decades.
Though the number of attendees was a little lighter than expected (held on Labor Day Weekend), it is very important to note that most of the organizers and participants were actually based in the Southeast (historically referred to as the Southern Black Belt). Such developments will only aid in the process of organizing the same region where Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker once fought. Connections were made and meaningful relationships were able to be established. The “Days of Grace” was only the start. Revolution is our next step forward. Indeed, from Ferguson to Charleston, a new surge of resistance is running full speed ahead.
Gulf South Rising: 10 Year Commemoration of Hurricanes Katrina
August 2015 marks the 10-year anniversary of one of the most devastating moments that laid bare the deep legacy of environmental racism in the history of the Unites States. When Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast, and the levees protecting New Orleans failed, approximately 80 percent of the city was flooded. The whole country watched as the overwhelmingly Black and working class residents of the Lower Ninth Ward and other surrounding neighborhoods climbed onto their roofs, and crammed into the Superdome crying out for urgent medical and emergency support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that seemed to never arrive. Ten years later, having also endured the devastating British Petroleum (BP) Oil Spill and Hurricane Rita in 2010, Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities in Texas, Mississippi, New Orleans and all along the Gulf Coast continue to wage a powerful campaign for restoration of the wetlands, reconstruction of affordable housing, support for displaced residents across the region, and the Right to Return!
GGJ and CJA members from around the country are joining with frontline organizers from across the Gulf Coast who are converging in New Orleans this week for a powerful week of action for the 10-year commemoration of Hurricanes Katrina. We urge all our supporters who can to follow http://www.gulfsouthrising.org/ (@GulfSouthRising @ggjalliance @OurPower) and send support if you can. We will continue to share back live updates on twitter and facebook while we are there. Stay posted and spread the word. The Seas Are Rising… AND SO ARE WE!!