Editorial: The New Face of Labor, Civil Rights is Black & Female

Protesters chant outside Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks inside to members of the community during an interfaith service, Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, in Atlanta. Holder traveled to Atlanta to meet with law enforcement and community leaders for the first in a series of regional meetings around the country. The president asked Holder to set up the meetings in the wake of clashes between protesters and police in Ferguson, Missouri. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Kimberly Freeman and Marc Bayard, NBC NEWS



(NBC News) — From Black Lives Matter and Fight for $15 to North Carolina’s Forward Together Moral Movement, black women are leading and playing significant roles in shaping the direction of groundbreaking efforts to reform policing and our criminal justice system, raise the minimum wage and ward off right-wing attacks on the Voting Rights Act and our fragile social safety net.

A closer look at these powerful women reveals a little known connection they share — all have ties to labor union and worker activism.

Before launching the hashtag that birthed a movement, Oakland, California based Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza led and still leads the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s (NDWA) “We Dream in Black” campaign. This campaign organizes housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers for the elderly across the black diaspora and cultivates a vision for a new economy and democracy.

Because all domestic workers are not covered by federal labor law protections, in part due to racism of the 1930s and a legacy of slavery, NDWA has had to secure basic rights such as maternity leave and paid time off state-by-state—already succeeding in six states. Recently, a federal appeals court upheld the Department of Labor’s rule mandating minimum wages and overtime pay for approximately 2 million home health care workers across the country.




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