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UFT Jewish Heritage Committee/Educators Chapter of the Jewish Labor Committee spring gala
Honoring a woman of valor
For a lifetime of dedication to human rights, Dr. Annie B. Martin, the president of the New York branch of the NAACP, was honored by the UFT Jewish Heritage Committee/Educators Chapter of the Jewish Labor Committee at its annual spring gala on May 3.
A dominant voice in the U.S. labor movement, Martin has served in various capacities with the New York City Central Labor Council and the Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee, and was the state assistant commissioner of labor under three administrations. As secretary-treasurer of Local 8-138 Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, she was one of the first women to hold a high office in the labor movement.
Martin has stood with the UFT since its early years in the 1960s. In 1968, she marched with A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and the UFT during the union’s strike for due process.
Martin is still marching, according to UFT President Michael Mulgrew, speaking to the crowd of more than 90 people gathered at Moran’s Restaurant in Manhattan.
“She’s been on the front lines against the closing of schools and the warehousing of children,” Mulgrew said. “She has always been there, and stands on the side of right no matter what or who is standing on the other side.”
Mulgrew told stories of Martin’s valor at protest marches, including during a February march in New York against closing schools when the police pushed a barricade against the protesters and Martin demonstrated fearlessness in the face of arrest.
Martin is a veteran of protest marches, after all, having “been involved with every march on Washington since 1963,” she said, talking about her life.
It was a life story that began with her standing up to authority on her first job and one that is entwined with the country’s labor, civil rights and women’s movements.
She talked about her experiences in Birmingham, Ala., during the bus boycott through the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to today’s fights for justice on many fronts.
It has been the life of a humble, unassuming woman who has made a tremendous difference in the world, according to committee treasurer Barbara Shiller, who organized the fundraising event and presented Martin with the annual humanitarian award.
“We’ve broken bread together and we’ve broken matzo together,” Shiller said of Martin who, earlier, had spoken about the long collaboration between Jewish organizations and the NAACP.
“I’ve continued to grow and serve; that’s how I’ve spent my life — and I like a good fight for a just cause,” Martin said after receiving the award.
Earlier, committee co-chair Joel Shiller set the stage with a quip that captured the diversity of the UFT family.
“We are very proud,” he said, “that in this Irish restaurant, with wonderful Italian hors d’oeuvres, an African-American woman is being honored by the Jewish Heritage/Educators Chapter of the Jewish Labor Committee.”
What is your favorite movie about a teacher?
Dead Poets Society
Stand and Deliver
Mr. Holland's Opus
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