Labor and civil rights activists empower each other and community in Gary, Ind., during Black Labor Week

Members of the USW and other labor organizations spent the 12th Annual Black Labor Week in Gary, Ind., engaging with the local community and learning from each other.

The activists, who traveled from across the country, spent the week attending panels, including a Black Male Discussion and a Black Women Empowerment Seminar. Members also spent time giving back to the community by serving breakfast at the NWI Veterans Village and talking to local students about the labor movement.

Black Labor Week was kickstarted in 2011 by District 7 Next Generation Sub-Coordinator E.J. Jenkins to bring people together from different communities, especially those from outside the Gary, Ind., area, who aren’t familiar with the struggles the city has faced due to white flight and attacks on its education system.

This year’s event was the largest in its history, and for that, Jenkins couldn’t be more grateful.

“I try to be appreciative of every blessing that I receive,” said Jenkins. “In this case, that blessing is growth.”

USW Vice President at Large Roxanne Brown gave the keynote speech at the end of the week, encouraging the activists to take what they learned and experienced in Gary to their own communities. She was also presented with the Vanessa Jenkins Racial Justice Award.

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