Black History Month is a time to celebrate the fullness of African American history and culture while honoring the triumphs and struggles of African-Americans throughout U.S. history.
Black History Month has been celebrated since 1926 when Carter Woodson proclaimed a week in February “Negro History Week.” Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the entire month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada, also devote February to celebrating Black history in their respective countries.
The fight for equal rights still continues today. The IAM shares in that same fight, and has fought for Civil Rights even before the historic passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
IAM leaders knew racial equality could not be achieved without participation in every part of our union. IAM Shop Steward training played a critical role, and IAM leadership ensured a focus on recruiting and training African American men to become shop stewards going back to at least the 1950s.
In January of 1963, Local 1781 in San Mateo, CA announced that a multiracial group of members successfully passed the Stewards Training Course. That same year, Local 1666 in Stamford, CT, had a basketball team comprised of eight players, six Black, and two white members. Teams like these continued throughout many lodges through the 1960s.
One act for justice can cause ripple effects that change the world. So don’t hesitate to get involved and support the labor movement’s push for equality. You can become a member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) or the A. Philip Randolph Institute, constituency groups that work with unions to ensure the rights of our African-American brothers and sisters are protected.