Bill Lucy Presented with Alston/Jones International Civil and Human Rights Award

March 1, 2018

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(This article first appeared in the March-April 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)  

(L-R) International Civil Rights Center and Museum founders Melvin “Skip” Alston and Earl F. Jones,
Secretary-Treasurer Powell,
Honoree William ‘Bill’ Lucy, and
President Mark Dimondstein
presenting the Alston/Jones International Civil and Human Rights Award.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum’s Alston/Jones International Civil and Human Rights Award was given to renowned trade union leader and APWU member William “Bill” Lucy on Feb. 3, in Greensboro, NC. The museum is on the site of the Woolworth Department store where four courageous African-American students “stood up” by sitting down at the segregated lunch counter in 1960, and sparked a sit-in movement for equal rights that spread throughout the south, and beyond. Sixteen national unions and the AFL-CIO joined in supporting the event and honoring Bill Lucy.

Lucy’s legendary career began a half century ago, when he was 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. For many decades he served as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Lucy also co-founded the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), where he served as president for forty years. In addition, he was part of the movement against the U.S. government’s backing of South African apartheid.

President Mark Dimondstein and Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth “Liz” Powell presented Lucy the award at the museum’s 2018 Annual Gala Fundraiser. “Based on a life-long commitment to worker rights and civil rights and his accomplishments in uplifting all workers, it is most fitting that Brother Lucy received this award,” said Presi- dent Dimondstein. “And as we recognized Bill Lucy, we were also honoring the heroic Memphis Sanitation Workers and their victorious struggle fifty years ago.”

On Sunday, Feb. 4, the museum hosted a community meeting with Bill Lucy and others commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. Secretary-Treasurer Powell presided over the event with APWU Solidarity organizer and NALC activist Richard Koritz.

Celebrate the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike 50th Anniversary

This spring marks 50 years since Memphis went on strike, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Mountaintop” speech and his subsequent assassination. To commemorate these historic events, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) rolled out the I AM 2018 Campaign.

Workers across the country, including APWU members, held a moment of silence on Feb. 1, to commemorate the deaths of sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who were crushed to death by their malfunctioning garbage truck – a safety issue that was long ignored by management. This tragedy sparked the historic 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. 

Shortly before the strike, Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign was launched, through which he built a movement of working people, demanding better jobs, homes and education. He believed when workers join together, anything can be accomplished. He joined the workers twice during the strike, and was assassinated during the second visit, on April 4.

To honor Dr. King’s legacy, as well as the striking sanitation workers, AFSCME will host a series of workshops and events April 2-4 in Memphis. For more information, visit

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