Labor Day was created at the exclusion of black workers. It was established in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland to honor and appease dissatisfied [white] railroad workers. Blacks were prohibited from joining the railroad worker’s union. Excluded from the right to even fight for fair work and wages, the Pullman porters formed their own union. This first black union was known as the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, and A. Philip Randolph was the first president.
African-Americans have a long, storied past with unfair labor practices in the U.S. According to Ta’Nehisi Coates, about 30 years earlier, black bodies were valued at more than $4 billion: more than railroads, factories and all of American industry combined.
Today, the legacy of slavery and forced labor continues to undermine the economic prospects of our people.
- African-American workers have high unemployment rates
- Millions of underpaid workers are denied the right to unionize
- Blacks make up a disproportionate share of low-wage and minimum wage earners
Moral Monday CT supports the fight for a $15 minimum wage. Why raise the minimum wage? “So we can take care of our families,” says Allyce Pace of Moral Monday CT, an entrepreneur, and a member of the National Association of Black Social Workers.
More than half of black and Latino working families are paid less than $15, and 64 million people work hard every day – but still can’t make enough to keep food on the table for their families.
Rev. Dr. Barber says, “Jesus came to preach freedom to people who work for slave wages.” We call on you to “come out of your homes, follow those who are closest to the pain and help us to redeem this country and yourselves in the process.” (