Black Workers For Justice hold annual banquet
Posted by raleighfist on April 14, 2008
The 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Support for Labor banquet, sponsored by Black Workers For Justice, took place on April 5 at the North Carolina Association of Educators building in Raleigh, N.C. The theme of this year’s program was “We Charge Genocide! Stand Up, Organize & Resist!”
WW photos: Monica Moorehead
The impetus for the theme comes from a movement that began in 1951, when African-American activists William Patterson, Paul Robeson and others collaborated on a document called “We Charge Genocide, The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief from a Crime of the United States Government Against the Negro People.” It chronicled the countless lynchings of Black people that had gone unpunished since the end of the Civil War.
This historic document could easily be applied today, with continuing racist repression of Black people embodied by the public housing crisis for Katrina survivors, the Jena Six, police brutality, incarceration and much more.
The banquet came one day after the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, who became an important voice against the Vietnam War and was also pro-civil rights and workers’ rights.
BWFJ, since its inception 27 years ago, has been carrying on Dr. King’s legacy. Many of its members are involved in the Electrical Workers union Local 150’s drives to organize public sector workers in North Carolina, which still practices anti-union, right-to-work laws.
The keynote speaker at this year’s banquet was Cindy Wiesner, an organizer of the Global Grassroots Justice Alliance and an outreach organizer for the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta last June. Robert Whiteside, one of the Freightliner 5, gave a short update on their struggle for justice. The 5 are members of United Auto Workers Local 3520 who were terminated from their jobs for opposing a two-tier wage structure during contract negotiations with Freightliner LLC on April 3, 2007. (Read Dante Strobino’s article at https://raleighfist.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/charleston-5-support-fired-uaw-strikers/ and also go to http://www.justice4five.com.)
The Abner Berry Self-Determination Awards were given to longtime labor organizer Dorothy Edwards and youth/community organizer Angaza Mayo-Laughinghouse. Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble and spoken-word artist Neva Deva provided cultural entertainment.