DC 37 Launches Black History Month Celebration

Black history month opening celebration and Lillian Roberts 90th B'day

Union leaders and activists gather at the Black History Month ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was followed by a celebration of former DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts’ 90th birthday. Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS

The union kicked off its annual Black History Month celebration on Feb. 1, with a ribbon-cutting and opening night dedicated to the theme of the African-American Experience in the Labor Movement.

The union and the BHM committee along with co-sponsor Local 372 celebrated former Executive Director Lillian Roberts’ 90th birthday with special guests former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, New York state AFL-CIO leader Terry Melvin, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., U.S. Congress Member Yvette Clarke, New York state Assembly member Walter Mosley, City Council members Adrienne Adams, Inez Barron, Carlina Rivera, Andy King, Mark Treyger, Jumaane Willams, Debi Rose, Laurie Cumbo, Daneek Miller, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, along with other local labor leaders and nearly 400 union members and retirees.

“We chose to honor our First Lady of Labor, Lillian Roberts, who has devoted more than 60 years to influencing the labor movement. No other person alive today embodies our theme this year as Lillian Roberts does,” said Deborah Pitts, the Black History Committee chair, who is the union’s secretary and is president of Local 1113.

“As an organizer and union leader, Lillian broke through glass ceilings and brick walls to build our mighty union, empowering women and including working families’ needs in labor’s fight for dignity and fair wages,” Pitts said.

“Like Dr. King, Lillian Roberts dedicated her life to workers and to this movement,” said Saunders, president of DC 37”s national union, AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “Lillian sees the glass half full no matter the challenge. She understands the risks that come with standing up for workers’ rights, for union rights and for economic rights — whether in her early days in Chicago or and as we march on Foley Square, on February 24.

“She finds a way to educate, organize and mobilize workers to make our voices heard every day. We come together and raise our voices because we are AFSCME and we aren’t taking it anymore!”  Saunders added, “Lillian Roberts is a rich part of labor history in America.”

Check out other Black History Month events at the union:

Political Action Committee                Thursday, Feb. 8

Local 371                                                Friday, Feb. 9, 5:30 p.m.

Local 1407                                              Monday, Feb. 12

Local 420                                                Friday, Feb. 16

Citizenship Committee                        Wednesday, Feb. 21

Local 372                                                 Friday, Feb. 23

Foley Square Rally                                Saturday, Feb. 24, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

BHM Finale Night presents: “The Motown Story” co-sponsored by the BHM Committee and Local 768  on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. For show tickets please call the White Collar Division 212-815-1060 or online. For more information, please call your local president or Committee Chair Deborah Pitts at 212-815-1060. All events start at 6 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.

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