NORTH BERGEN, NJ(October 21, 2013) - The Alexander Talmadge – Edward L. Brown, Sr. – Civil, Human & Women’s Rights Committee of the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO honored Harold J. Daggett, International President of the union, at its First Annual Dinner held in Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday, October 19, 2013.
Gerald Owens, International General Organizer for the ILA and chairman of the union’s Civil Rights Committee and Charles Spencer, Executive Vice President of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District and an International Vice President and the Civil Rights Vice Chair, were joined by all members of the Civil Rights committee on Saturday at the Marriott Norfolk Waterside Hotel as they presented President Daggett with a mounted eagle. The committee praised ILA President Daggett for his commitment to advancing Civil Rights and for his role as Chief Negotiator and successfully completing a landmark six-year Master Contract earlier this year.
The other members of the ILA Civil Rights Committee are Mary Ann Gillespie, Secretary-Treasurer; Lovette McGill, Recording Secretary; Gerardo Becerra, Edward L. Brown, III; Herbert Hall, Sr.; Gerald Rodney Owens; Allan Robb and Gregory Washington and surrounded ILA President as he was presented with his award.
The ILA Civil Rights committee bears the names of two deceased ILA leaders who were themselves, champions of Civil Rights during their distinguished ILA careers. Alexander Talmadge hailed from the Port of Philadelphia and served as ILA Assistant General Organizer. Edward L. Brown, Sr., was an International and Atlantic Coast District Vice President from the Port of Hampton Roads, Virginia.
ILA President Daggett was deeply honored at being selected as the first recipient of the Civil Rights Committee Award and made a pledge to the overflow crowd that attended the Norfolk dinner.
“Tonight, as your International President, I pledge that our union stands firm on the principal that every ILA member – man or women, Black or White – will be afforded equal opportunity to a job, for chance to run for an ILA office, to utilize every talent our good Lord has afforded him or her to be the very best,” said President Daggett. “I pledge that our Civil Rights Committee will champion freedom and liberty throughout our nation and around the world.”
Prior to Daggett receiving his award, four officers of the ILA delivered special remarks praising the ILA leader and the Civil Rights Committee. Benny Holland, Jr., International Executive Vice President said the ILA “needed a Civil Rights Committee” and praised the recently negotiated six-year ILA Master Contract and union membership as testaments to civil and workers rights.
ILA International General Vice President Stephen Knott told the dinner audience that it has been pleasure to work alongside ILA President Daggett for more than 40 years.
“You couldn’t have picked a better man to honor with this Civil Rights Award,” said Mr. Knott.
Clyde Fitzgerald, President of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District, noted his personal pride that the ILA has long been a champion of Civil Rights. He referenced an incident in ILA history where the union pulled a Convention meeting out of a hotel in Miami, Florida in the early 1960s because African-American members where not permitted to stay there. Mr. Fitzgerald also noted that the ILA recognized Martin Luther King’s birthday in January as a union holiday long before the United States made it a National Holiday.
In a moving and emotional speech, Dennis Daggett, the son of the International ILA president and himself, the president of the Atlantic Coast District recalled growing up in a home that was “color blind”. In fact, ACD President Dennis Daggett noted he didn’t fully comprehend the brutality of cruelty of discrimination and oppression against minorities until he learned about Slavery in school.
Dennis Daggett praised his mother and father for their lessons by example on how to treat everyone equally. He also noted his appreciation for growing up in the ILA alongside friends like Edward L. Brown, III. As ACD president, Dennis Daggett said he was proud of creating an ACD Civil Rights Committee for his district and introduced to the audience its chairman Bernard Dudley and co-chair Robert Gladden.
ILA President Harold Daggett acknowledged in his remarks the role women will now play in the ILA’s Civil Rights Committee.
Referring to female ILA members now serving on the Civil Rights committee, ILA President Daggett thanked all the women in the ILA “for demonstrating why we must honor and listen to the voice of women – a voice of love, intelligence, compassion and reason and one that’s been ignored too much until now.”
President Daggett said the new Civil Rights Committee is changing this.
The Honorable Paul D. Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk, presented the ILA President with an official proclamation at the Norfolk ceremony. The proclamation noted Harold Daggett’s distinguished career in the ILA, his honorable military service and his contributions to bettering the lives of tens of thousands of ILA members and their families.
Mrs. Yvette Brown, widow of Edward L. Brown, Sr., was presented with a special recognition plaque, awarded posthumously to her husband. A large contingent of Brown family members was present at the dinner in Norfolk.