Statement by Herbert Hall and G. Rodney Owens, Chairs, ILA Civil Rights Committee On Black History Month

NORTH BERGEN, NJ (February 9, 2021) This February, America celebrates Black History Month.  The Civil Rights Committee of the International Longshoremen’s Association is proud to recognize the history and achievements of Black Americans, acknowledging that we applaud many great advancements made, but also reflect on the struggles and challenges still confronting our nation.

America’s collective optimism is raised with the inauguration on January 20th of President Joseph Biden and his historic running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris, the first female and first African-American elected to that position.  We echo the words of President Biden that this year’s Black History Month comes as America faces a time “of reckoning, redemption and hope.

The ILA’s Civil Rights Committee is proud that we were joined by all our employers this summer as we honored the memory of George Floyd, whose life was cut short by an act of racism,  with and hour of prayer and reflection at all ILA ports from Maine to Texas, Great Lakes and Puerto Rico.  “A knee to the neck of justice opened the eyes of millions of Americans,” said our International President Harold j. Daggett.

During Black History Month in February 2021, we reflect and mourn the loss of nearly a half million lives lost to this horrific COVID-19 pandemic and note that Black Americans suffered a disproportionate amount of those deaths and are falling behind on receiving the precious vaccine.  This represents a most unjust treatment of our American Sisters and Brothers.

The ILA Civil Rights Committee views February’s Black History Month as a time to reaffirm our commitment, backed by our ILA officers and members, to combat the evils represented by the mob of insurrectionists and white supremacists who attacked our Capitol in Washington on January 6th, 2021.  We are committed to advancing the principles and practice that all American citizens deserve the protections of equality and justice – in our lives, in our jobs, with availability to health care, education and housing.