By MIKE LEE
Local 1407 honored the history, heritage and achievements of African Americans at union headquarters on Feb. 10.
Along with an entertaining performance by the Simba Dance Group, the event featured speakers who focused on the struggles ahead at a critical moment in this nation’s history.
Maf Misbah Uddin, DC 37 treasurer and Local 1407 president, honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, how they transformed the nation and built a more-inclusive labor movement.
Following Uddin, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido spoke of Dr. King’s legacy: “What we see here is that we celebrate the poetic existence of Dr. King and what he stood for.”
“But we need to talk about institutional racism, and talk about segregation and talk about government providing for the very few, at the expense of the many. You cannot divorce the idea of what Dr. King stood for without remembering his sacrifice during the sanitation strike in Memphis,” he said.
Keynote speaker Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, the first African American to serve as a DA in New York, said: “The fight for equal wages, fair conditions and for the jobs and benefits that we enjoy today is because the civil rights movement and labor were intertwined.”
Anthony Harmon, NAACP New York Chapter president and an American Federation of Teachers vice president, and Transit Workers Union Local 100 officer Charles Jenkins, who is also president of the New York Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, lifted sprits with fiery oratory.
Harmon stressed the importance of participating in the 2020 U.S. Census, how full participation increases representation in Congress and vital funding for social services and infrastructure. He said, “We have to do our part to make sure our communities are participating in the census.”
Regarding the November 2020 election, Jenkins said, “We can’t afford to stay home. We got to organize like we never organized before and I’ll tell you–I know we can do it. You vote. You win. We vote. We win!”