And Still I Rise: Black Women Labor Leaders’ Voice, Power, Promise

Source: Institute for Policy Studies, 2015

From the introduction:
….The idea for this report emerged in October 2013 when the Black Labor Scholars Network (now the Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative) and Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor hosted a two-day conference titled The State of the Black Worker in America. This event delved deeply into the history of black workers and their organizing efforts; the current state and vision of black leadership within unions; innovative and cutting edge black-led organizing across the country; and a gender-based analysis of black organizing.

Little-known, groundbreaking research about the effectiveness of black women’s leadership in union organizing created a lot of buzz at the conference and begged an important question: Why has the organizing success of black women not resulted in more black women serving in leadership positions that help shape the direction of the labor movement? We hit the road in search of an answer. In our travels from the West Coast to the Deep South, we heard amazing stories from incomparable women.

And Still I Rise: Black Women Labor Leaders’ Voices, Power and Promise gives the 27 amazing women we interviewed and the 467 who responded to the Institute for Policy Studies’ National Survey of Black Women in Labor an opportunity to not only explore this question for themselves but, more important, to show the labor movement a way forward. The report is organized around three emerging themes—leadership, organizing and policy issues of concern to black labor women—and reflects the women’s unique position at the nexus of race, gender and class. More than giving a critique of what is wrong, the women offer insights into winning organizing strategies, ways to build power by linking arms with others, the value of opening opportunity to black women in nontraditional fields; and what happens when white allies use their position and power to make room for the leadership of black women to emerge.

These topics are explored through first-person narratives of the women we interviewed and a summary of the national online survey results. The report concludes with a series of recommendations to move the ideas within these pages to action…..
Survey Findings: National Survey of Black Women in Labor
The Black Worker Initiative
The Women