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Sun, 11.26.1933

William Lucy, Union Activist born

William Lucy

*William Lucy was born on this date in 1933. He is a Black engineer and trade union leader.

William Lucy was born to Susie and Joseph Lucy in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Richmond, California. In the early 1950s, He studied civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He worked for Contra Costa County as a materials and research engineer for the next thirteen years. During this period, he started working within the labor movement.

Lucy became a member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local #1675 in 1956 and was elected president in 1965. The following year, he worked full-time at AFSCME's national headquarters in Washington, D.C., as associate director of legislation and community affairs. He served as Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME from 1972 until retiring in 2010. During that period, Lucy and fellow black unionists Nelson Edwards, William Simons, Charles Hayes, and Cleveland Robinson co-founded the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).

Lucy was elected its first president and continued to serve until 2013.  Lucy was elected president of Public Services International in 1994, the first African American to hold the post. In 1995, he was appointed to the AFL-CIO executive council. He has also served as vice president for the AFL-CIO's Maritime Trades, Professional Employees, and Industrial Union departments. In 1968, as part of his leadership role with AFSCME, Lucy supported Martin Luther King Jr. and the primarily black sanitation and other service workers in Memphis. They were striking for better wages and benefits.

Despite King's assassination in April 1968, Lucy continued the work in Memphis, helping the strike succeed. Lucy coined the slogan, "I Am A Man!" that became the rallying call for the Memphis strikers. Lucy co-founded the Free South Africa Movement, a grassroots anti-apartheid campaign, and was part of the movement for over twenty years. Lucy was part of an AFL-CIO delegation monitoring elections when Nelson Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa. 

 As of 2018, Lucy serves on the board of directors of the NAACP. 

To Become an Electrical Engineer


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