Walter Reuther

"Walter Reuther is the most dangerous man in Detroit because no one is more skillful in bringing about the revolution without seeming to disrupt the existing forms of society." - Governor George Romney

 

Walter was an American leader of organized labor and civil rights activist who built the United Automobile Workers (UAW) into one of the most progressive labor unions in American history. He saw labor movements not as narrow special interest groups but as instruments to advance social justice and human rights in democratic societies. He leveraged the UAW's resources and influence to advocate for workers' rights, civil rights, women's rights, universal health care, public education, affordable housing, environmental stewardship, nuclear nonproliferation, and democratic trade unionism around the world. 

 

A powerful ally of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, Reuther helped organize and finance the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, delivering remarks from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial shortly before King gave his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. A lifetime environmentalist, Reuther played a critical role in funding and organizing the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

 

Reuther was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. George Romney, Governor of Michigan, once said, "Walter Reuther is the most dangerous man in Detroit because no one is more skillful in bringing about the revolution without seeming to disrupt the existing forms of society." A household name during his life, Reuther's legacy is all but forgotten to history.

(Excerpt from wikipedia)

 

Genora  Dollinger

"The Joan of Arc of labor"

 

Genora Johnson Dollinger was the founder and organizer of the Women's Auxiliary and the Women's Emergency Brigade in the 1937 sitdown strikes of General Motors in Flint. This significantly contributed to the union victory. These events are recounted in two documentary films. The first, Babies and Banners was nominated for an Oscar. Equally impressive was the B.B.C.'s The Great Sitdown Strike. The two films are an account of women's heroic contributions to bring unionism to the automobile industry. 

After the recognition of the UAW-CIO by General Motors, she became organizer and secretary of Local 12. Blacklisted in Flint she found employment in Detroit at the Briggs Manufacturing Company where she became Chief Steward of UAW Local 212, an all women's department in the company's main plant. As a result of her UAW union activities Genora was severely beaten with a lead pipe while she was asleep in her home in Detroit. It was later revealed by Senator Estes Kefauver's Investigating Committee that the Mafia, hired by corporate leaders, was responsible for this and other beatings of UAW officials and the shooting of UAW President Walter Reuther and his brother, Victor Reuther. 

Genora devoted over six active decades of her life on behalf of labor, civil liberties, civil rights, women's equality, opposition to the Vietnam war, and for the betterment of all human kind. In 1952 she was a candidate of the Socialist Workers party for the U.S. Senate from Michigan. 

(taken from Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame)

 

Fanny Peck

"Buy - Boost - Build"

 

 

Fannie Peck organized The Housewives’ League of Detroit in 1930 by calling together fifty local housewives in Detroit. Over the next thirty years the organization strived to maintain wealth within the black community.

 

The League was a response to the economic despair caused by the Great Depression. By 1935, membership in Detroit increased to ten thousand. Members of the league recognized their position to strategically uplift their communities social and economic status, as caretakers of their homes. Requirements for league membership included a pledge to support black-businesses, buy black products, and to support black professionals within the community. League members were offered educational seminars on their purchasing power, budgeting, and tips for home management. Their motto became, “Find a job, or Make one and make your dollar do Triple duty.” The success of the Detroit League made it the model for the establishment of the National Housewives’ League of America in 1933. Peck served as the first president.

(Taken from Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)

 

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