Black history is woven into the history of the American labor movement and the history of our union. Throughout much of our nation’s existence, Black history has been long ignored or outright suppressed. That is why, during Black History Month, we honor the contributions Black Americans have made to this country and to the advancement of working people everywhere.
Early in our union’s history, Teamsters advocated for “no color lines” within the labor movement and would not tolerate the practice of separate unions for Black members. Women and people of color were part of the membership from the very beginning of the Teamsters Union, with Black members attending the founding convention in 1903.
As early as 1917, Teamster contracts included provisions for equal pay regardless of race. In the 1960s, Teamsters marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as part of the civil rights struggle for racial equality and economic justice.
While some progress has been made over the last half-century to eradicate the sickness of racism in America, we have a long way to go as a society to uproot the institutionalized prejudices that disadvantage and oppress Black Americans. While continuing to support the ongoing fight for equality and justice in America, Black History Month is about recognizing the countless Black Americans who – despite these obstacles – have helped move society forward in so many ways.
The Teamsters Union has and will continue to uplift these stories and learn from the legacies of Black Americans who have shaped the trade union movement and human progress across the globe.