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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Black History month


The union’s 38th annual Black History Month included 10 outstanding events uplifting African American roots and history, pride and purpose, that drew more than 3,500 union members and retirees to the union hall in February.

“This is the time of year we come together to celebrate African American people and share our heritage and culture,” said Committee Chair Deborah Pitts, DC 37 secretary and president of Local 1113. Throughout the month, locals sponsored events that featured life-affirming poetry, song, dance, and speeches that were marching orders for the 2020 elections.

Special guests included NYS Attorney General Letitia James, newly elected NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Council members Vanessa Gibson and Andy King, a former SSEU Local 371 member, state Senator John Liu, Bronx DA Darcel Clarke, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and a special Skype message from U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, a candidate for U.S. President in 2020.

“Without Black history, there would be no labor history. Both movements are intrinsically connected in the development and consciousness of America,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

Local 372’s event included a moving dance tribute, Four Little Girls, for the Alabama school girls killed in the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church by white supremacists. Local 1549 highlighted the youthful energy and hope of HBCUs. Local 420 presented modern dance by acclaimed choreographer Ron K. Brown Evidence.

Finale Night and the CBTU events hit operatic notes in music and movement deeply rooted in the traditions of the Black church. The month included events sponsored by SSEU Local 371, and Locals 1407 and 1930.