By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
The New York Chapter of CBTU, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and Go Party honored Black heritage with a gospel concert at DC 37 in lower Manhattan Feb. 21.
“The cornerstone of our history is rooted in the church,” said Charles Jenkins, president of the New York CBTU Chapter. CBTU was founded 49 years ago with a mission to link labor and the African American community.
Reminding attendees of the importance of participating in the Census and upcoming elections, Jenkins said, “It’s time to unite and defend our leaders all the way to the ballot box!”
Hundreds packed the union hall as Local 1482 Brooklyn Library Guild President Ronaldo Barber emceed the Friday night event organized by DC 37 Grievance Rep and CBTU Vice President Eugene Williams.
The concert featured singers B. Renee, Jackie Rowe-Adams, president of Local 299, and Lisa Nero. Opera Exposures’ Rochelle Small Clifford and Tshombe Shelby sang arias from Porgy and Bess, La Traviata, and traditional spirituals. The night also included Neicy T’s Kidz Biz Showcase, a dramatization on historic African queens and other entertainment.
Educator Porsha Cohen spoke on America’s ugly history where after slavery was abolished, the 13th Amendment all but sanctioned the mass incarceration of blacks that feeds the prison industrial complex. Cohen told of her son’s incarceration: “We need real prison reform that starts with a reformed mindset. Better life options come when one makes better choices.”
Special guest speaker Rev. Terrence Melvin, the president of CBTU and the secretary-treasurer of NYS AFL-CIO said: “We’ve got to get uncomfortable and talk with people about this White House and what’s at stake. We vote to get what our communities need!”