Teamsters Honor & Value Black Americans Today and Every Day

Letter from Jason & Catherine

Greetings Teamsters,

During the month of February, we take the time to honor and to celebrate the contributions, milestones and achievements of African Americans in American society and history.

Negro History Week was founded in 1926. The second week in February was chosen in recognition of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. President Ford officially recognized Black History Month, stating that we need to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our (American) history.”

As early as 1906, the Teamsters Union called for “no color line,” and actively began to organize black men and women. Black women helped establish one of the first “color free” contracts in the country in 1917, as Teamsters negotiated equal pay for black and white laundry women. The Teamsters Constitution has barred racial discrimination since its inception.

Strongly opposed to segregation of any kind, Teamster’s General President James R. Hoffa and many Teamsters members gave support to the civil rights movement, in keeping with the principles of the Teamsters union.

The legacy of such individuals as Frederick Douglass who was an escaped slave and became a prominent activist, author, public speaker, and a leader in the abolitionist movement which sought to help end slavery. Harriet Tubman helped slaves escape to freedom. She was the conductor of the Underground Railroad. And Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery Alabama. Her courageous act of civil disobedience set a precedent for Blacks to sit on a bus.

In 2020, the United States saw unprecedented support of Black Americans through the Black Lives Matter movement. Millions of protesters took to the streets across the country demanding the de-criminalization of being Black and end to law enforcement’s murder of Black Americans. The Teamsters publicly denounced the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans, and we fight for equality for African Americans in our workforce every day.

Now Kamala Devi Harris, the first Black and Asian elected to the office of Vice President of the United States, shows how much more Black Americans are recognized as equal citizens in American society today.

This Black History Month, we rededicate ourselves and our Union to the struggle for racial equality in our workplaces and in our society.

In Solidarity,

Jason Rabinowitz                        

Catherine Cobb

Black and white workers together at the 1905 Teamsters International Convention in Philadelphia.

Learn About African American History

We hope you take the time to reflect on the invaluable contributions African Americans have made to society, culture, and our daily lives. Toward that end, we have listed below some African American history and art museums located in California.

Allensworth: Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

Los Angeles: African American Firefighter Museum, California African American Museum, Museum of African American Art

Oakland: African American Museum & Library

Portola: Jim Beckwourth Museum

San Diego: Casa del Rey Moro African American Museum

San Francisco: San Francisco African American Historical & Cultural Society, Museum of the African Diaspora