Benjamin Lawson Hooks (January 31, 1925 – April 15, 2010)
Dr. Hooks erved as executive director of the NAACP from 1977 to 1992. In this speech – “Civil Rights and Social Justice: Past, Present and the Future” delivered at The Hooks Institute at The University of Memphis – Dr. Hooks’ asks: “Are there no more cats to bell?”
The following is excerpted from a speech to the AFL-CIO 25th Constitutional Convention in July, 2007.
I know the mutual benefits that grew from the historic alliance between organized labor and the movement for civil rights–benefits we all must work to strengthen and extend today.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, most labor unions excluded blacks. Unorganized blacks were used as scabs when white unionists went on strike. The old divide-and-conquer strategy was put to good use by corporate bosses. The labor movement’s racism was used against it to great effect.
Things began to change when A. Philip Randolph organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in the 1920s. Blacks scored a major breakthrough in the struggle for admission to the ranks of organized labor in 1930 when the AFL recognized the Brotherhood.
In 1924, the NAACP helped create the Interracial Labor Commission. Its goal was to bring more blacks into the labor movement. It worked. Thousands of black workers joined the ranks of the organized rank-and-file in the ensuing years as widespread discrimination began to fall, and they quickly became some of labor’s most disciplined and dedicated foot soldiers, infusing the movement with renewed energy and vigor.
In many organizing campaigns in the 1930s and 1940s, especially in the South, black workers were the first to join, were the most steadfast and the most militant. This was true of campaigns to organize longshoremen along the Mississippi River, in ports of the Gulf of Mexico and on the Eastern Atlantic Coast and in largely black mining regions in Alabama and West Virginia.
Given our common interests, minority Americans and organized labor are both better off when we cooperate. Most of us are working people. Our interests and your interests are the same.
By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan It was a bad week for dictators, and a good one for international justice. Two brutal, U.S.-backed dictators who ruled decades ago were convicted for crimes they committed while in power. Hissene Habre took control of the northern African nation of Chad in 1982, and unleashed a reign of terror against his own people, killi […]
We continue our conversation with Dave Zirin, author of the book "Brazil's Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy," and Jules Boykoff, author of "Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics." In early August, more than 10,000 athletes across the world will convene in Rio de Janeiro's […]
Extended interview with Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the Hiroshima atomic bombing, about the bombing of 1945 and her push to eliminate nuclear weapons. On August 6, 1945, Thurlow was at school in Hiroshima when the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on a civilian population. She has been an anti-nuclear activist for decades. Watch Part 1
Holocaust survivor and peace activist Hedy Epstein has died at the age of 91. Epstein was born in Germany and left in 1939 on a Kindertransport to England. Her parents died in Auschwitz. She later returned to Germany to work as a research analyst for the prosecution during the Nuremberg trials. She was involved in civil rights and antiwar movements throughou […]
By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan Thursday, Jan. 28, was a cold morning in Durham, North Carolina. Wildin David Guillen Acosta went outside to head to school, but never made it. He was thrown to the ground and arrested by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ). He has been in detention ever since. Wildin, now 19 years old, fled his home […]
House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. The House Majority Leader has said that his expenses on a 2000 trip were paid by a nonprofit organization, and that the financial arrangements for it were proper.
Five months after President Bush launched his drive to overhaul Social Security, the difficult, if not impossible, task of drafting legislation begins Tuesday when the Senate Finance Committee holds the first hearing on options to secure Social Security's future.
Years ago, the federal government spent $117 million on an experimental "clean coal" power plant in Alaska designed to generate electricity with a minimum of air pollution -- but the project never got up and running.