Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, local unions take part in Juneteenth Day of Action, cleaning up MLK Drive

St. Louis – The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) St. Louis Chapter hosted its fifth annual Juneteenth Labor for Black Lives rally and cleanup of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive Saturday, June 15, with a rally and a community cleanup.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans in Texas on June 19, 1865 when, after white Southerners extended the enslavement of countless Black people for more than two months after the end of the Civil War, Union troops arrived in Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln two years earlier.

The annual cleanup has become a tradition and is held the third Saturday to accommodate CBTU members and union volunteers who have to work on the holiday.

Participating unions and affiliates included CBTU, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 6300, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1, UNITE HERE Local 74, United Autoworkers (UAW) Local 2250 and the United Way of Greater St. Louis.

“This is our fifth anniversary of doing this, and we plan to keep doing this the third Saturday in June every year to build community relationships and celebrate Juneteenth,” said Lew Moye, president emeritus of CBTU St. Louis. “It’s for Labor to show that we’re concerned about what goes on in the community. Martin Luther King Drive is one of the most neglected streets in St. Louis. Though it’s named after such a great individual, it’s often neglected.”

Unions and affiliates helped in the cleanup of a five-block area of MLK Drive between Hodiamont Avenue on the west and Grand Avenue on the east. St. Louis Operation Brightside provided all the necessary tools, gloves, trash bags and other items to help with the cleanup.

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