black history month

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

March 24, 2019 // 1 Comment

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 1968 to make good on a promise to workers. Earlier that year, two Memphis sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, had sought shelter from a torrential rain in the back of a garbage truck. When the vehicle’s compressor malfunctioned, they were crushed to death. Memphis Mayor Henry Loeb and the city offered cold comfort — no compensation or death benefit for the families. At the time, Memphis’ 1,300 black sanitation workers earned 65 cents an hour with no benefits, overtime, or rights. The indignities heaped on them led to their membership in AFSCME Local 1733 and a strike for wages, human dignity, and union recognition. The workers carried signs that read, “I AM A MAN.” Their cause was a microcosm of the struggles Dr. King’s upcoming Poor People’s Campaign embraced. “If [More...]

Union Celebrates African American Heritage

February 13, 2019 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS This month’s ongoing celebration honoring African American pride and purpose continues to attract hundreds of DC 37 members and retirees to its 38th annual Black History Month events. In addition to local events at union headquarters tonight, next week  there will be events on Feb. 21 and 22. Black History Committee Chair Deborah Pitts, who is also DC 37’s Secretary, and Local 1113 will host Finale Night on Feb. 28. “This is the time of year we come together to celebrate African Americans as a people and share our heritage and culture,” said Pitts, the union’s Secretary and president of Local 1113. To kick off the union’s Black heritage month there was a ribbon-cutting opening ceremony Feb. 1 led by Pitts, Associate Director Oliver Gray and Treasurer Mah Misbah Uddin, who is also president of Local 1407. Afterwards, hundreds of SSEU Local 371 [More...]

DC 37 Black History Month Events

February 1, 2019 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS DC 37’s Black History Committee kicked off a month long celebration of African-Americans and their achievements, culture and contributions at the 38th annual Black History Month celebration at union headquarters in Lower Manhattan. “This is the time of year we come together to celebrate African Americans as a people and share our heritage and culture,” said Deborah Pitts, the union’s Black History Committee chair and Secretary who is president of Local 1113. Pitts, Associate Director Oliver Gray and Assistant Associate Jamila Joseph cut the ribbon to welcomed guests as a dozen local presidents and committee members attended the festive grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the union gallery. Locals will sponsor events throughout February to honor and commemorate the African American legacy of struggle and advancement that [More...]

Remembering Dr. King

January 21, 2019 // 0 Comments

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BY DIANE S. WILLIAMS Dr. Martin Luther King engaged in struggle to move America towards its better self, to will a people to become united, and use its power, spirit and economic ability to realize its potential more fully, to eradicate poverty and to end injustice. Had King lived he would have been 90 years old Jan. 15. As an architect of the civil rights movement, King urged all Americans to work for the greater good for all. He said, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” ASFCME and District Council 37 remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was martyred in Memphis while fighting for Sanitation workers. King aligned himself with labor’s [More...]

Labor’s Black History Makers

March 7, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Black History Month began with a ribbon-cutting and opening night dedicated to “The African-American Experience in the Labor Movement.” “We chose to honor our First Lady of Labor, Lillian Roberts, who has devoted more than 60 years to 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 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.” Throughout February locals honored extraordinary labor leaders, past and present, including Ms. Roberts, retired American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employeees Secretary-Treasurer [More...]

DC 37 Launches Black History Month Celebration

February 5, 2018 // 0 Comments

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 [More...]

Black History Month: Heartbeat of America

March 1, 2017 // 0 Comments

  Photos: Mike Lee By DIANE  S. WILLIAMS The Motown Show’s two sold-out performances on Finale Night Feb. 27 ended the union’s month-long celebration of Black History. Motown Spectacular is a musical co-written and directed by DC 37 member Yolanda Brooks-Ruiz, a Local 768 Public Health Sanitarian, and retired New York City Firefighter Juan Ruiz, who studied with renowned acting coach Lee Strasberg. Black History Committee Chair and Local 1113 President Deborah Pitts emceed the night with DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido and Local 768 President Fitz Reid. Local 768 and the DC 37 Black History Committee sponsored the event. Brooks-Ruiz’s Motown show highlights the genius of producer, songwriter and music pioneer Berry Gordy, who with writer Smokey Robinson, and later with the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, crafted tunes and smooth stylings that leaped past longstanding [More...]

DC 37’s Black History Month Calendar for 2017

January 30, 2017 // 0 Comments

The DC 37 Black History Committee and Local 1113 are hosting the annual Black Heritage Month celebration at union headquarters with guest speakers and entertainment honoring the culture and contributions of African Americans. Opening night is Wednesday, Feb. 1, with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony and more. The locals listed below will host events throughout the month. On Finale Night, Monday, Feb. 27, the DC 37 Black History Committee presents The Motown Show, a play written by Local 768 member Yolanda Brooks about Berry Gordy’s legendary Motown. Motown became the heartbeat of America, and the show features impersonators of the legendary Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Eddie Kendricks, Mary Wells, Stevie Wonder, “King of Pop” Michael Jackson and TV hosts Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and Don Cornelius and the Soul Train Gang. The Motown sound united a [More...]

Black History Month Finale to feature two showings of “Mandela”

February 19, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Join the DC 37 Black History Committee for the Black History Month special finale at union headquarters – a presentation of the play “Mandela” celebrating the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s historic visit to New York City. Because of high demand for tickets, the committee decided to schedule a second show at 4 p.m. To reserve tickets for the 4 p.m. show, click here or call 718-930-0175 and leave a message. “Mandela,” written, produced and directed by two public employees, had a limited run in July to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mandela’s three-day visit to New York. About five years ago Yolanda Brooks caught a bug, the theater bug, and with retired Firefighter John Ruiz she honed their mutual admiration for Nelson Mandela into a play about the freedom fighter’s historic 1990 visit to New York City. By day, the Public [More...]