FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  July 11, 2011                  
For More Information, Contact: 
Dwight Kirk (202) 257-3966

CBTU Celebrates 40 Years of Struggle and Success

Call to Action Highlights 40th Anniversary Convention in Las Vegas

 Washington, DC  -- The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) emerged from its 40th international annual convention in Las Vegas having celebrated this milestone in grand style, but also creating a new framework for growth and engagement over the next 40 years. More than 1,100 delegates packed the speeches, the strategy sessions and special events during the convention in May over the long Memorial Day holiday.

 
In his keynote speech to the delegates, CBTU President William “Bill” Lucy explained why CBTU has been so successful over four decades. “We had heated but civil debates on the issues of the day and put our minds together. We agreed on a message.  We created a program of action. Then we returned home to organize our co-workers and our communities. That blueprint that has helped CBTU survive longer than any other black labor organization in American history.”

 
Lucy, who is a co-founder of CBTU and has been its first and only president since its inception in 1972, recalled other CBTU pioneers. Folks like Charlie Hayes, Nelson Jack Edwards and Cleve Robinson. Folks like Horace Sheffield, Jim Bell, and Geraldine Johnson. He also recognized living legends like Bill Simons – a co-founder of CBTU and Rev. Addie Wyatt.

 
But Lucy, who retired last year as international secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) after a trailblazing tenure of 57 years, warned delegates not be content with helping to put a black man in the White House.

 
”T
here are devious and destructive forces at work across America. People who stand against all that CBTU stands for have put a bulls-eye on the backs of workers, poor folks, seniors and children,” Lucy said.

 
Lucy noted that the anti-worker agenda of conservative politicians and big business pose an even greater threat to African American families and communities dealing with depression level unemployment and a poverty rate of 25% -- three times the rate for white families.

 
Either we mobilize or we will be mowed down for problems we didn’t create in state after state. Either we strengthen our partnerships in the community and with our allies or we will become an easy target to scapegoat, isolate and punish,” Lucy warned.


With the stakes so high in the 2012 elections, Lucy urged delegates to attend a special “Call to Action Conference” in December. This political conference with other CBTU allies will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, with the purpose of mapping out a game plan to reelect President Obama, while beating back the anti-worker agenda of the conservative politicians and their big money donors.

Lucy blasted folks like Donald Trump who are quick to blame President Obama for every major problem but can’t muster the decency or patriotism to praise his amazing accomplishments, like passing health care reform.

 
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Lucy said, “for creating 1.1 million jobs in 2010 alone – more than the entire eight years of George W. Bush. Thank you, Mr. President for marrying a beautiful and brilliant First Lady and for making the White House truly the People’s House again. Thank you, Mr. President for getting Osama bin Laden – finally!”

 
Accolades also rained down on Lucy, who had his own special night during the 40th anniversary festivities. Hundreds of delegates attended the “Bill Lucy Celebration” – a “house party” in a ballroom. Terry Melvin, CBTU Region 1 Representative and the emcee for the Lucy Celebration, said, “Tonight, we’re here to party and celebrate the ‘gift’ of Bill Lucy’s friendship and leadership. I say ‘gift’ because Mr. Lucy is such a great leader that he could be the CEO of a global company, or the president of a major foundation, or a United States ambassador. Melvin, who is also secretary-treasurer of the New York AFL-CIO, continued, “But he’s ours and the labor movement’s. And we are so thankful that he has shared his brilliance and his heart with us for the past 40 years -- with many more years to come! So tonight is Bill’s night.”

 
Lucy, who remains CBTU’s president and a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, received several special gifts, including a framed letter of congratulations from the President of South Africa and the head of the African National Congress (ANC). The Chicago CBTU Chapter presented Lucy with a custom-made gold lapel pin in the shape of Africa. The pin symbolizes solidarity with African liberation movements. Lucy proudly sported one until he lost it. Chicago Chapter President Bob Simpson said the new pin was replacement for that special piece of jewelry in Lucy’s collection.

 
Then the party was on.


 


    
   



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