Tag: labor

Educate and Train People for the Future …

Labor Day feature from a Passages interview with Mama Maida Springer Kemp.  She was an historic labor leader who cared and made advances for people through the union movement in the U.S. and abroad.

n the 1950s she began working for the AFL as an adviser to newly founded labor unions in Tanzania, Kenya, and Ghana, where she came to be known as “Mama Maida”.[3] In 1951, sponsored by the American Labor Education Service, she traveled to Sweden and Denmark to observe workers’ education programs. She then took an eight-month hiatus from ILGWU to study at Ruskin Labor College, Oxford University, on an Urban League Fellowship. In 1955 she attended the first International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) conference in Accra, Ghana, as one of five observers, of which she was the only woman. In 1957 she played a key role in the founding of Solidarity House in Nairobi.[2]

In 1959 she went to work for the AFL-CIO‘s Department of International Affairs as its representative to Africa. For the next several years she made her home alternately in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Nairobi (Kenya), and Brooklyn, New York. She started an exchange program for Africans to study at Harvard University, founded a trade school in Kenya whose mission included expanding opportunities for women, established a post-secondary scholarship for Tanzanian girls, and started the Maida Fund to enable farm workers in East Africa to return to school.[5] In the course of her work she befriended many of Africa’s emerging leaders, including Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Between 1957 and 1963, she attended the national independence ceremonies of Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya.[2]

In 1964 she represented the U.S. at the 48th Session of the International Labour Organization conference in Geneva. In 1966 she resumed working as a general organizer for ILGWU. Later she worked for the A. Philip Randolph Institute.[2]

In the 1970s, as a consultant for the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI), she worked with trade unions in Turkey, where she helped introduce women into the labor movement by establishing the Women’s Bureau of TÜRK-İŞ. Initially her efforts were met with resistance by male union leaders who wanted women to participate in the organizing work, but had little interest in the concerns of women workers, such as equal pay, equal opportunity, and child care. She also worked in Indonesia to get more women involved in the labor movement.[7] She attended International Women’s Year conferences in Mexico and Nairobi in 1975, and the Pan African Conference on the Role of Trade Union Women in 1977.

Give a listen to Mrs. kemp’s story on Passages celebrating Labor Day ….

Pray for workers and our leaders to do the best for those in need the most for making a living to sustain life for them and their families.

 


Let My People Go!

Labor Day is an interesting end of the summer! It is after the season of vacations and relaxation for most and is just about the time school starts and we hunker down for a sprint towards Thanksgiving and Christmas to prepare for the beginning of another year.

Labor, what does it mean historically for those not born into a situation of privilege or having opportunities at their disposal because of family and or a position in the community?

Labor is symbolized by the struggle of being able to work at a job to make a decent wage and provide for your family and get a good education.

However, there has been a number of things skipped over or not included in our history that because of it not being from the Caucasian point view is left out.

I had the sincere joy and delight in interviewing Maida Springer Kemp who was an American labor organizer who worked extensively in Africa for the AFL-CIO. Nicknamed “Mama Maida”, she advised fledgling labor unions, set up education and training programs, and liaised between American and African labor leaders. In 1945, traveling to England on a labor-exchange trip, she was the first African-American woman to represent U.S. labor abroad. She was also active in the civil rights movement, and advocated for women’s rights around the world.

Here is a refreshing and at times sobering story of her life (told in her own words) that gives us insights to the unsung hero’s of the Labor Movement that don’t get attention in our schools history books but because she is one of God’s children her story is shared on Passages. Listen to Mrs. Kemp on Passages where award-winning stories come alive in an informative and entertaining way. Click on the audio button below.

As she grew from being a union foot soldier to a pioneering international labor advocate, Maida Springer Kemp traveled the world. Everywhere she went — Europe, Africa, Turkey — she looked for the union label, the sign that workers were being treated fairly.

That’s because Mrs. Springer Kemp knew the life of the thousands who toiled long hours in the garment industry sweatshops. She was one of them.

Mrs. Springer Kemp, a native of Panama who went to Harlem at age 7, had lived in Pittsburgh since the late 1970s. She died after a long illness at the age of 94.

Mrs. Kemp’s legacy grew out of her activism that was planted in Harlem. There Mrs. Springer Kemp was deeply influenced by her mother, Adina Stewart Carrington, who listened to the black nationalist messages of Marcus Garvey and told her young daughter to be hopeful and value education.

Have a wonderful Labor Day! Part 2 of her story will be featured on Media Mission’s website later today.

We pray for all the workers and their families in the world this day!


America Love It and Live “A Legacy of Community Service”

America Love It and Live It with the emphasis on immigration and freedom for all people.

Mavis is a women of color who came here with her family.  She is a woman who forged her way in the Labor Movement making life better for minorities and children throughout her life.

Her son, a retired lawyer, is her shining light in the community as a legacy she provided to help make the world a better place.

Listen to America Love It and Live It:  Where special voices of people of all ages and from all walks of life share about what makes America special.

Listen to Mavis on Passages by clicking on the audio file below.

 

 

Pray for our leaders in giving direction and a purpose to being American!