Today in labor history: Workers take part in protest against bank

On this day in 1963, in East St. Louis, Illinois, 200 people – 170 of them female, and majority African-American – engaged in a sit-in protest against employment discrimination against women by Union National Bank, which was not hiring female workers or black workers. They then proceeded to march outside of City Hall in further protest, calling also for integrated schools and voting rights.

Police arrived quickly, commandeering a passing Bi-State bus in order to round up the protesters and cart them off to jail. Many of the activists laid down and sang “we shall not be removed.” This is notable in that it occurred two months after the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, legislation that abolished wage disparity based on gender.

Photo: Two hundred workers march outside City Hall in E. St. Louis, Illinois, Aug. 15, 1963. Afroamhistory