ST. LOUIS — A diverse crowd of 170 gathered at the Painter’s Union District Council 58 hall to honor five labor and community leaders receiving this year’s Hershel Walker ‘Peace and Justice’ Awards Breakfast May 13.
The annual awards breakfast was commissioned to commemorate the extraordinary life of St. Louis trade unionist and civil rights leader Hershel Walker, who dedicated over 60 years to the labor, peace, and justice movements.
At the union hall, Shuron Jones, Mistress of Cermonies, and Nikki Battreal of the Workers Education Society welcomed union members, community activists, and elected officials to the event, as the crowd made their way back to their tables for the keynote speaker’s opening remarks.
Bhaskar Sunkara, founding editor and publisher of Jacobin magazine, served as the keynote and congratulated the awardees’s for their commitment to the labor movement and creating a just and equitable society for all working people.
“Radically changing things would mean taking away the source of capitalists’ power: the private ownership of property and there’s something about the socialist vision, no matter how distant and far fetch it seems today, that gave the workers’ movement power. The idea that workers create wealth and have knowledge made the terms very clear: they need us, we can do without them.”
Jacobin magazine has become one of the top “left” publications in the U.S. with over one million monthly readers, and joins the People’s World’s long and proud tradition of covering workers’ rights, jobs, equality, and other working class issues.
This year’s Hershel Walker ‘Peace and Justice’ awardees were:
Cara Spencer:Alderwoman of the 20th Ward and director of the Consumer Council of Missouri, a non-profit advocating for consumers over corporate profits. Cara has passed the toughest legislation regulating payday lenders in the country and focuses her efforts on vacancy, affordable-housing, and community safety.
Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr.: Democratic representative for the city’s 78th legislative district in the Missouri House of Representatives. He was elected to his first two-year term in November 2016. Bruce is a small-business owner, was appointed Police Community Liaison by the St. Louis police chief, and founded 28 to life, a local youth violence prevention organization.
Richard von Glahn: Policy director for MO Jobs with Justice, Richard first got involved in the labor movement while a student at Washington University-St. Louis by helping to establish the Student Worker Alliance at the university. The students living wage campaign eventually secured over $2 million in salary increases for university support staff.
Ed Finkelstein: Publisher of the St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune, one of the few remaining weekly labor newspapers in the country. Ed joined the Labor Tribune when he was 14 years old. After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism in 1959 he served six years as an information officer with the Strategic Air Command in Wyoming and England. In 1970, Ed took over management of the Tribune and restored its aggressiveness and coverage of local and national labor news.
Jay Ozier: President and founding member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists-St Louis Chapter. Jay is a member of the Carpenters Union local 92, and for decades has been a champion for human, labor, and civil rights.
The awards ceremony was hosted by the Missouri/Kansas People’s World and the St. Louis Workers Education Society.
Members of the Service Employees International Union, Healthcare MO/KS; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists-St. Louis Chapter; IUOE local 148; Laborers’ Local 110; Labor Tribune; SMART Local 36; Painters’ District Council 58; Jobs with Justice; Missourians against the Death Penalty; and Show me $15 attended the breakfast along with: State Representative’s Perter Merideth (D-80th District), Clem Smith (D-85th District), Cora Faith Walker (D-74th District); 9th Ward Alderman Dan Guenther; 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan Green; 20th Ward Committeewoman Wendy Campbell; 8th Ward Committeewoman Annie Rice; 14th Ward Committeewoman Madeline Buthod; and many others.
Video by Earchiel Johnson | PW