[Fwd: NAACP President Refuses to Speak at OSU]

JSchaffner jschaffner at SPAMigc.org
Tue May 2 07:35:22 MDT 2000





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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 2, 2000
Columbus, Ohio

For more info, contact Yoshie Furuhashi (at 614-299-3313 /
furuhashi.1 at osu.edu) or Mark D. Stansbery (at 614-252-9255 /
walk at igc.org).

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume Refuses to Speak at OSU;
Racism Fuels Anti-Unionism

Kweisi Mfume, president and CEO of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, was scheduled to give the keynote
address of the sixth annual Big 10 and Statewide Conference, which
will take place from 9 AM to 2:30 PM today at the Ohio State
University.  Upon being alerted by T.J. Ghose (an OSU graduate
student and member of Students for Equal Rights and Justice) to the
OSU's maltreatment of the predominantly African-American Local 4501,
Communications Workers of America, however, Mfume declined to speak
at the Ohio Union as scheduled today.  The theme of the conference
is, ironically, "Racial Legacies and Learning: Bridging the
Political, Educational, and Economic Divide."  Mfume's absence,
unionists and supporters argue, should call attention to the widening
political and economic divide between largely white OSU management
and predominantly black members of Local 4501 - the divide that
cannot be bridged by conference speeches and papers.

In fact, since the beginning of the strike of Local 4501, it has
become more evident than ever that racism fuels anti-unionism and
vice versa.  Doug Edmondson, a striker who works for physical
facility, had a painful experience yesterday.  When Edmondson
attempted to talk with a young white student bus driver serving as a
scab, the young white man mockingly replied to Edmondson: "Don't
worry, you'll go back to scrubbing toilets in a couple of weeks."
Edmondson, though, is not a custodian but a skilled worker who
handles heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning.  Edmondson
wryly remarks: "He assumed that I'm a janitor, because I am black."
Besides endangering the safety of bus riders by hiring poorly trained
drivers, who may even lack a commercial driver's license, in its zeal
to crush the strike, the OSU management may be, unionists and
supporters wonder aloud, exploiting racism to encourage scabbing.


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