Carmen’s Black History: Past, Present, and Future

Black History Month is not only a time to look back and honor those who have made strides in the Black community, but a time to look around us at history in the making, and look towards the future to recognize changes that still need to be made. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended our Annual Black History Celebration this year, we continue to acknowledge and reflect on the contributions our diverse workers have made to our union and the communities we serve.

Carmen’s Union Local 589 was established in 1912, but it was not until the 1990s that we called on a long-time member, Gayle Jefferson, to host the first Annual Black History Celebration. With only the help of a few coworkers, Jefferson was able to put together an event including pamphlets, books, figurines, and foods representing different Black cultural heritages. Fortunately, since then, our union has expanded our resources to support this successful event and feature performers, speakers, and the cuisine of many cultures. Most recently, Mayola Little has had the honor of being our coordinator for the Annual Black History Celebration.

Black History is not something confined to the past — our members continue to make it well into the present day. Previously serving as Barn Captain, Karen Maxwell is the first black woman to serve on our Executive Board, elected Local 589’s Assistant Secretary in 2019. Maxwell is not only a respected and hardworking member of Local 589, but she commits herself to the diversity and inclusion of this union. The late April Raines, former Barn Captain for the Cabot Garage, once said, “My coworkers and I look like the communities we serve because we are the communities we serve.” May we continue to recognize Black contributions and accomplishments this month and every month!

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