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Archive for the ‘Daily Feature’ Category

For the last day of Black History month, AFGE’s WFP History blog is proud to honor one of the most influential blacks of all time, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, GA. Martin Luther King Jr. lead a very promising childhood. After skipping two grades, he left high school at the age of 15 to attend Morehouse College. He graduated Morehouse in 1948 with a BA in sociology. From there he went on the attend the Crozer Theological Seminary where he obtained his Bachelors of Divinity in 1951. He would ultimately continue his education at Boston University, receiving a PhD in Systematic Theology.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Dr. King became a Baptist minister. He used this position to rally his congregation and begin work towards the Civil Rights Movement. Using the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi as a mode, he led peaceful protests and became a leader in the local community. With the events of Rosa Parks’ bus protest, the Civil Rights movement instantly kicked into high gear and Dr. Kings prominence rose significantly.

With the help of his congregation and the backing of the SCLC, Dr. King became the leader of this soon to be monumental movement. Over the course of the movement, many events had taken place, but none more memorable than the 1963 March on Washington. An estimated 200,000 people attended the march on the National Mall in Washington, DC where Dr. King made his now iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. Since then, a federal holiday has been named in his honor, and a memorial in Washington, DC is currently being constructed.

Dr.King is by far one of the most crucial persons in the grand scheme of black liberation. We here at AFGE commend him for all his amazing work.

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In the grad scheme of the labor movement, Frederick Douglass is by far one of the most important pioneers. Today, WFP History is proud to recognize his achievements.

Born a slave in February 1818, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey worked on Maryland Plantations until the age of 20. During that time, he managed to teach himself to read with the help of his owners wife. He then encouraged and secretly taught a class of 40 other slaves to read until being discovered by their owners.

After two failed attempts Douglass finally made his escape from slavery by posing as a sailor. Using rail and waterways, Douglass was able to escape from Maryland to New York in less than 24 hours. Douglass was 20 years old.

Once in New York, Douglass went on to become one of the most important abolitionists in the nation. He published an  autobiography so well written it proved him to be just as , if not more intelligent than any of his white counterparts. The attention gained from his book garnered fears that Douglass may be captured and sent back to his owner in Maryland, so Douglass took a sabbatical to Ireland where he lectured on the injustices back home. The people of Ireland and Britain were so moved by Douglass, they pooled together and officially bought his freedom, making Frederick Douglass legally a free man.

With his freedom, Douglass returned to the States where he published a number of abolitionist journals and continued to advocate for slave and woman’s rights. He gained such notoriety that he went on to confer with President Lincoln prior to the emancipation proclamation and eventually held a number of various government positions.

Frederick Douglass spent his entire life advancing the state of blacks in this nation. For that, we commend him.

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For the conclusion of AFGE Week, we are proud to honor the late, great, Andrea E. Brooks.

From AFGE.org:

Brooks began her government career at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana, rising through the ranks of AFGE while working at the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Brooks saw the necessary role of the union from the start. After training several men at the DVA who went on to become her supervisors, she decided to become a steward with her AFGE Local to clear up “what’s wrong with this picture.”

Brooks was soon Chief Steward, then Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, Executive Vice President and then President for ten year of AFGE Local 490 at the Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Los Angeles, California.

Other AFGE credentials include serving as Vice President of the AFGE National VA Council and 12th District National Women’s Coordinator. In 1986, she accepted the position of National Representative for the 12th District. Following her role as a National Representative, Brooks was elected and served six years as AFGE’s 12th District National Vice President, representing Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.

In the year 2000, Brooks was elected National Vice President of AFGE’s Women’s and Fair Practices where she served until her passing in 2009. We express gratitude to Ms.Brooks for her lifelong dedication to the labor movement, and for the mark she has left on this union.

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Today we are elated to honor former AFGE President John Sturdivant!

In 1988, John Sturdivant became the first African-American National President of the American Federation of Government Employees. According to the official AFGE history book, AFGE: Then & Now.

Sturdivants’s first challenge was to fend off an orchestrated attack by independent unions to pick off weakened AFGE locals one at a time. His leadership restored the union’s financial health and repaired a public image weakened by talk, before he was elected, of insolvency.

 In 1990, Sturdivant consolidated the number and size of AFGE districts, creating a new model of organization of which we still benefit from today. Sturdivant also innovated new approaches to labor-mangement partnerships and encouraged participation,  strategic planning, and education on behalf of the union and it’s members.

In 1997, President Sturdivant died in office. The legacy he left behind was one of growth and revitalization for AFGE, having placed to the union on the road towards a stronger future. On February 12, 2003, the AFGE national headquarters building in Washington, DC was dedicated in his honor, being renamed the Roy L. Sims / John N. Sturdivant building.

We thank and appreciate President Sturdivant for his hard work and dedication, while being a trailblazer within the union.

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Today we honor our very own National Vice President for Women’s and Fair Practices, Augusta Thomas.

Thomas was born in Louisville, Kentucky and moved to Atlanta, GA at the age of 13. It was there where she was classmates with then future civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr; known as “Little Martin” at the time. She went on to graduate from Central Colored High School, and attend Clark University’s Homer G. Phillips School of Nursing.

 In 1966, Thomas started her career in the federal government as a nurse at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Louisville, KY. She joined AFGE the very same day. Since then, Thomas held almost every position available within her local, eventually being elected to her current position in August of 2009.

Because of Thomas’ continual hard work in the fields of human rights, AFGE’s 6th district has named an award in her honor, the Augusta Thomas Humanitarian Award. In addition, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has declared April 4th to be Augusta Thomas Day, recognizing her hard work in racial equality and economic development. 

We at AFGE are honored to have Augusta Thomas working on our side. Shes been an invaluable asset to the cause for years, and we are grateful for her efforts and tremendous dedication thus far.

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Today we honor Jennifer Marshall, a member of 17 years who serves as President of Local 2145. Ms. Marshall has fought tirelessly to gain fair awards for African-American workers at the VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA.

According to her nominator:

Jennifer Marshall, the President of Local 2145, started gathering information about awards received by African Americans at the VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA in 1999.  She has been steadfast in her commitment to ensure justice in award amounts for 2,200 employees.  The class action suffered many set-backs, however Jennifer maintained her persistence and diligently pursued all avenues to make certain that the Class Action effecting over 2,000 African American workers, was certified and class members were compensated for the discrimination that had been suffered by the African Americans at the VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA.

On October 5, 2005, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission certified the class of all African American employees, past and present, who have worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs McGuire facility in Richmond, Virginia at any time from 1996 to the present and have been discriminated against with respect to the Agency’s policies and practices in the selection of and distribution of monetary and non-monetary awards, including but not limited to special contribution awards, on-the-spot and time-off awards, quality step increases, gain-sharing., awards, honor awards, and other monetary and non-monetary awards.

The Settlement Agreement also provides for monetary relief for Class Members. The total amount of monetary relief provided under the agreement is $5 million.

Under the Settlement Agreement, McGuire VA Medical Center employees who believe they should be recognized for high quality accomplishments or contributions may nominate themselves for awards for which they qualify.

For nearly a decade, a class consisting of approximately 2,000 African-American employees of the Hunter Holmes McGuire Richmond VA Medical Center has pursued a class action discrimination claim before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The African Americans at the Richmond Virginia VA have benefited from Jennifer Marshall’s persistence and commitment to the Class Action. Checks will be mailed out, beginning February 1, 2011 to the Class members.

AFGE commends Jennifer Marshall for her hard work and dedication to such a worthy cause.

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Today AFGE remembers Sharon Jenkins, a member for 13 years who was a staunch supporter of women’s rights and workplace diversity. During her time with AFGE, Ms. Jenkins was deeply involved in the labor movement in many ways. She served as either chair, co-chair, or representative for organizations including AFGE Local 3840 Executive Committee, Cincinnati Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Council, Equal Employment Opportunity Cultural Diversity Awards Committee, NIOSH Diversity Committee, and the Partners in Education Subcommittee. As a show of her diligent efforts, Ms. Jenkins was awarded honors such as Employee of the Month, Diversity Steering Council, and EEO Advisory Council award; as well as a Charles C. Shepard Science Award nomination.

In addition to being active in the movement, Ms. Jenkins was a valued member of her local community, single mother of two, and scholar, earning degrees in Accounting and Business Administration.

On November 10, 2010, Sharon Jenkins passed due to a sudden illness. While she is no longer with us physically, the mark she left will remain forever. AFGE salutes, thanks, and appreciates Ms. Jenkins for her efforts and all the hard work she’s put in during her lifetime.

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