“Salvation for a race, nation, or class must come from within. Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted.”
These were the words of A. Philip Randolph, former leader of an early African-American trade union called the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. In 1965, he and civil rights leader Bayard Rustin established the A. Philip Randolph Institute to unite the labor and civil rights movements. Today, under the leadership of President Clayola Brown, the APRI continues to strengthen electoral power bases in currently and historically disenfranchised communities.
On Saturday, April 13, the North Carolina State affiliate of the APRI hosted its 45th Annual A. Philip Randolph Education Awards Banquet and Birthday Celebration. Proceeds from the banquet will go toward measures aimed at voter education and engagement, voter encouragement initiatives, and community service programs such as:
- Environmental justice
- Feeding the hungry
- Closing the health disparity gap in communities
The theme of the event, which took place at the Millennium Hotel Durham, was Facing the Challenge: Preparing for The Future. It emphasized the reality that staying grounded and working together during times of uncertainty will lead to more victories in the fight for social justice and workers’ rights.
The Banquets Agenda
All attendees were welcomed by State Senator Mike Woodard while AFL-CIO Southern Region Field Representative Isaac Gobern served as master of ceremonies.
Congressman G.K.Butterfield introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls. Justice Earls is a former executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the civil rights division of the Department Justice in the Clinton administration.
The event honored the significant contributions of elected officials, labor leaders, and community activities who, inspired by Mr. Randolph’s efforts, have made strong inroads in the area of freedom, social equality, and workers’ rights. This year, the individuals being honored were:
- Carrie Clark, Executive Director of North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (Community Leader Award). Ms. Clark has supported community betterment by working with the Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, and the Environmental Federation of North Carolina.
- Andre Barnett, Secretary-Treasurer of United Food and Commercial Worker Local 1208 (Labor Leader Award). Mr. Barnett has devoted significant time and effort to workers’ rights.
The APRI has an ongoing mission to fight for racial equality and economic justice for working people, the poor, and minorities. In March 2018, it joined the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and other groups to protest a proposed ‘tip-stealing’ rule that would have allowed employers to manage employees’ tips, including taking them for themselves. Tipped workers frequently receive less than minimum wage and rely on tips to supplement their income.
How We Show Our Support
At Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC, it is our privilege to support its annual banquet and help the North Carolina APRI improve the quality of life for workers and economically disadvantaged families throughout the state. We are also dedicated and experienced workers’ compensation attorneys who protect the rights of injured employees when employers and insurers say, “No.”