Celebrating Black History Month and Its Legacy

UWUA Local 223 is proud to celebrate Black History Month by honoring and recognizing the contributions of African-Americans throughout history who have pushed past adversity and showed us what happens when people commit to a cause, work hard and dedicate themselves to doing whatever it takes to make a difference.

While the history of labor unions in the United States dates back to the mid- to late-1800s, one of the most influential African-Americans dedicated to the labor cause was A. Phillip Randolph, who in 1925 organized and ran the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African-American labor union.

Randolph’s efforts paved the way for better working conditions for large numbers of African-American railroad porters, including: shorter work weeks, better pay and overtime wages. Randolph remained active in the BSCP through the 1955 AFL-CIO merger, and remains an African-American pioneer in labor union history.

Continuing his firth against racism, Randolph’s efforts were instrumental in the 1941 executive order in which President Roosevelt banned discrimination in the defense industries during World War II, as well as President Harry S. Truman’s executive order in 1948, which ended segregation in the armed forces. The celebration of Black History Month lets us see how one person’s efforts can make a tremendous impact on the generations that follow. Whether you’re celebrating presidents, activists, poets, athletes or artists who made an impact on our culture or world, there are countless names to consider. Names like Martin Luther King, Jr., President Barack Obama, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Zora Neale Hurston, Colin Powell and Muhammad Ali are all recognized and leave an indelible mark on our society.

It is important that we take time to celebrate the diversity among, as well as these remarkable people and their accomplishments. We are people of different races and backgrounds, of different religions and political views. We are people of different cultures, traditions and histories. And this is the beauty of it all. We are as diverse and the same as the collective stars in the solar system. We are separate but one. We are workers, coworkers, friends and humans. Let’s celebrate us as individuals and as a group – always proud to be UWUA Local 223.

Dave Cafagna