Addie L. Wyatt, Civil Rights Activist and Labor Movement   Leave a comment

Addie L. Wyatt (née Cameron) (b. 28 March 1924; Brookhaven, Mississippi) is leader in the United States Labor movement, and a civil rights activist. Wyatt is known for being the first African-American woman elected international vice president of a major labor union, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union. Wyatt began her career in the union in the early 1950s and advanced in leadership. In 1975, with the politician Barbara Jordan, she was the first African-American woman named by Time magazine as Person of the Year.[1]

  Family and early life

Wyatt was born to Ambrose and Maggie (Nolan) Cameron in Brookhaven, Mississippi on March 28, 1924. She is the second child and the oldest daughter of eight children. She moved with her family to Chicago in 1930 when she was six years old.[2][3] She married Claude S. Wyatt Jr. on May 12, 1940. With Claude she had two sons, Renaldo Wyatt and Claude S. Wyatt III. She raised several of her younger siblings after her mother died and her father was unable to care for them because of illness.[3]

  Meatpacking industry and union work

After her marriage Wyatt took a job in a Chicago meat packing company in 1941 after failing to find typist’s job. She worked as a meat packer from 1941 to 1954, and during this time became increasing involvement with the United Packinghouse and Food and Alliance Workers Union. In 1953 Wyatt was “elected vice president of her branch, Local 56, becoming the first black woman to hold senior office in an American labor union”.[3] Wyatt was the director of the Women’s Affairs and Human Rights departments of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters. In the early 1960s, Eleanor Roosevelt recognized her leadership abilities and appointed her to a position on the Labor Legislation Committee of the United States Commission on the Status of Women.[4]

During the 1970s she became a powerful figure in the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. In 1974 Wyatt was a founder the Coalition of Labor Union Women. When Wyatt became the international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers in 1976 she was the first African-American woman to take a high level leadership position in an international union.[3]

 Ministry and civil rights work

In 1955 Wyatt was ordained as a Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) minister.[3] Together with her husband, also an ordained Church of Good minister, she worked in the ministry and civil rights campaign of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and participated in major civil rights marches, including the March on Washington, and the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.[4] Wyatt was involved in grassroots civil rights work in Chicago and participated in organizing protests.[3]

She was a labor adviser to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She served on the Action Committee of the Chicago Freedom Movement. In the 1960s Wyatt was active in Operation Breadbasket, which distributed food to underprivileged people across the United States.[3] In 1984 Wyatt became a full-time minister, and with her husband founded the Vernon Park Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), in Chicago.[3] They retired as ministers of the church in approximately 2000. Later Wyatt was the founder and CEO of the Wyatt Family Community Center in Chicago, Illinois.[2]

Wyatt was a founding member of the National Organization for Women.[4]


Wyatt was named one of Time Magazine‘s Women of the Year in 1975. From 1980 to 1984 she was one of Ebony Magazine‘s 100 most influential black Americans.[4] In 1987, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists established the Addie L. Wyatt Award.[4]


Posted February 29, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Uncategorized

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