Black History

UE News features, interviews, and book and film reviews about Black History.

The Question of Unity: A UE Leader’s Lessons About Building People’s Power

August 21, 2018

The legendary Ernest Thompson was a rank and file UE leader in New Jersey, the first African-American on UE’s national staff, and the national secretary of UE’s Fair Practices Committee (FPC). A new edition of Thompson’s autobiography Homeboy Came to Orange: A Story of People’s Power, co-written with his daughter Mindy Thompson Fullilove, was published this year by New Village Press.

Homeboy Came to Orange tells the story of time in UE, but also his organizing for “people’s power” in the segregated northern city of Orange, NJ, where Thompson became active in community organizing after leaving UE. Beginning with a fight to desegregate the schools his daughter attended, Thompson built organizations which increased the political power of working-class African Americans in their city, based on a program called “A New Day for Orange” that addressed urban redevelopment, unemployment, improving the school system, civil rights, recreation and representative government.

UE’s Early Commitment to Black Lives Matter: Fighting Frame-ups, Lynching and “Legal Lynching”

February 1, 2016

In December 1952, under a front page banner headline, the UE NEWS reported that Harold Ward had been freed. Who was Harold Ward? A previous issue of the UE NEWS carried a photo of Ward and noted that he was financial secretary of UE-FE (Farm Equipment) Local 108 at International Harvester in Chicago. In October, in the seventh week of a strike at the company, he was arrested and charged with the murder of a non-striker. But as Local 108 President Matt Halas explained: “The reason Ward was accused is clear.

Black History Month: Ernest Thompson, UE Pioneer in Fighting Racism

February 13, 2015

During his years as a local union officer and as a UE organizer, union members nicknamed Ernest Thompson “The Train” because of his ability “to deliver” in negotiations. In 1943 Thompson came out of his shop, American Radiator in New Jersey, to become the first African American organizer on the UE staff. In March of 1947 he took a leave from the national staff to become business agent for UE Local 427, and he was elected vice president and later executive secretary of the Hudson County CIO Industrial Union Council.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Jim Crow - A Legacy of Injustice

February 14, 2014

Since the birth of UE Local 150, the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, in 1998, one of its central goals has been the repeal of North Carolina General Statute 95-98, which outlaws collective bargaining and union contracts for all state and local public employees. Local 150 delegates and leaders often tell other UE members that this law is a “Jim Crow law.” For Black History Month 2014, the UE NEWS asks, “What is Jim Crow?”

The Long Struggle for Voting Rights

August 20, 2012
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Since the founding of the United States, working people have had to fight to win, and to keep, the right to vote. And through American history, rich and powerful people, often calling themselves "conservatives", have tried to maintain their privileges by depriving other Americans of the right to vote.

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