Local 249’s Martin Luther King Day of Action

By Cecelia Davis and Erica Eckart

Martin Luther King Day is one of many important holidays around America. It reflects on a man that not only made change in the segregation of whites and blacks but created a continuous movement that inspires many of us today. Every year, Local 249’s Civil and Human Rights committee puts on a Martin Luther King Day celebration. This year was intended to be just as Epic with a special guest speaker Mayor Quinton Lucas. Unfortunately, we were unable to host the event due to circumstances related to Covid.

On January 17, the Civil and Human Rights Committee came up with the idea of having a Martin Luther King Day of Action. The committee had the opportunity to take a fascinating tour at the Kansas City Black History Museum located in the historic 18th and Vine district. It was the perfect day to learn about African American history and culture within our community.

There are so many Local 249 Kansas City natives that have families that help shape not only the union but also this beautiful city. The Kansas City Black History building holds documentation of amazing deeds, art, and history that many blacks have succeeded in doing.

After learning these great facts about our Kansas City black heritage, the Civil and Human Rights Committee decided that this year, we would partner up with Senator Barbara Ann Washington and her sorority sisters to collect and deliver food and necessities to the community in honor of Martin Luther King. As per usual, Local 249 came through again. We were able to load up one of our Ford tough F-150 trucks and checked off every item that they requested on their list.

“Our local donated over $1000 worth of toiletries, personal hygiene products, baby wipes, diapers, and non-perishable food items,” said Sade Ott, chairperson of the Civil and Human Rights Committee.

“It’s always a great feeling to give back to our community. Knowing that we can help provide to those that need it the most, is one of the most rewarding feelings,” she said. Especially during a pandemic, when many families that have never imagined themselves in the position to need anything from anyone, can get some relief from events like this. The organizations in which our donations were collected for, were the Avenue of Life and Total Man CDC. Both organizations are a huge asset to our communities, and both have accomplished so much for the advancement of those communities as well.”

The members of the committee created their own assembly line to remove the goods from the truck in a timely manner symbolizing the strong power of solidarity through which we achieve from being members of Local 249.

“These are the hardest working givers I know…” tweeted Senator Barbara, “Thank you UAW Local 249 for always stepping up, stepping out & giving back. You are amazing & what a wonderful surprise.”

Senator Washington and Local 249 have a great history of charity work partnerships. We are on the same page when it comes to giving back to our communities. We’ve teamed up for turkey drives, donation events and many other community action programs together, as we plan to continue doing so in the future.

Senator Washington belongs to the Beta Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority here in Kansas City. For over 100 years, they have remained true to the sororities mission of “service to all mankind.” Just what our union strives to do daily. The sorority was established at Howard university in 1908. Making the AKA’s the oldest and largest African American sorority with 150,000 members and more than 900 chapters.

Just like the AKAs our union is an ever-growing family that continues to make history with the members and within our communities.

“I think the most impactful part of the event was not only being able to honor Dr. King’s legacy but being able to do that with such a diverse group of individuals. As a member of this local, we get members from different backgrounds and cultures, and I really think that makes a difference when they see us giving back to our communities. To see a mosaic group of humans come together for a common cause is heartwarming within itself,” said Ott.

As the day ended, they were able to come together and accomplish so much, not concerned about the color of our skin but how to embrace our differences and provide great quality the Local 249 way. If you find yourself wanting to learn more about what the Civil and Human Rights Committee does and would like to do events like this one, please contact the union hall or reach out to one of our standing committees directly.