Many unions join effort
By KEVIN MADDEN
More than 40 volunteers collected enough trash to fill two 20-foot-long dumpsters Saturday, June 18 during the Third Annual Juneteenth Labor for Black Lives Day of Action in St. Louis.
The volunteers cleaned up sidewalks and lots along Dr. Martin Luther King Drive from Grand Boulevard west to the city limits, said Jay Ozier, president of the St. Louis Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).
Participating in the cleanup were members of UNITE Local 74, Painters District 58, Laborers, Communications Workers and United Auto Workers.
The event was sponsored by the CBTU Under 40 Leaders Committee. The city’s Brightside St. Louis program provided tools, gloves and trash bags.
At a rally held before the cleanup began, speakers including St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-St. Louis) commemorated Juneteenth as a celebration of African-Americans’ emancipation from slavery more than 150 years ago.
Juneteenth is a recognized holiday in St. Louis City, and beginning this year is a paid holiday for city employees.
In addition, “It is now a national holiday in the United States of American,” Ozier said at the rally.
St. Louis City’s website says, “On June 19th, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the (Civil War) had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.”