Union’s AFRAM Caucus Celebrates Culture & Works For Progress

October 17, 2019

Our African American Caucus is committed to enhancing leadership opportunities and encouraging union participation.

AFRAM_Caucus_fa.jpg1199ers throughout the Union are working hard to re-invigorate member engagement with AFRAM, the National African American caucus within SEIU, especially as the country gears up for the 2020 election.

Kaydra Bonamy, a certified nursing assistant at the Terra Vista Rehabilitation and Nursing Home in Orlando, FL, was sworn in this summer as AFRAM’s Secretary of the Southern Region, alongside Coy Jones, an 1199SEIU Florida political coordinator, who is the AFRAM’s new President of the Southern Region.

Bonamy and Jones emphasized the critical importance of AFRAM’s political work in the interests of all working people and the vital role the caucus program must play in mobilizing Black and Brown voters alongside other under-represented groups.

“AFRAM’s original focus was to address issues that impact African Americans,” said Bonamy. “But it has expanded to include immigrant rights, workers’ rights, and other critical issues that impact us all. These are the issues that unite us.”

A recent signature achievement of the AFRAM caucus was in Florida, with pushback against attacks on the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Program, a long-standing humanitarian provision in U.S. immigration law that allows people to live and work in the U.S. during the aftermath of a natural disaster or outbreak of conflict in their home country. AFRAM members organized a vibrant stall at May’s annual Haitian Compas Festival in Miami. AFRAM members helped educate attendees about the threat to Haitian immigrants, and the assault on TPS. With a significant number of TPS holders among Haitian Floridians, and many who work in health care, 1199ers were vocal and mobilized around the issue. As the Trump administration has threatened the program, 1199’s AFRAM caucus, alongside other campaigners, is calling for permanent protections to be put in place for TPS holders.

But it is not just politics that animates the Union’s AFRAM membership. AFRAM is dedicated to the celebration of African American culture and contributions across society. When her mother became the oldest living person in the U.S., Rose Green, a retired 1199er from Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, turned to AFRAM to help her celebrate.

The caucus brought together local dignitaries and family members in Harlem to honor Alelia Murphy as she turned 114 years old. Green said of her mother, who moved to New York City from North Carolina at the height of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s, that she was known for her energetic jitterbug routines back then.

“Her motto has always been, ‘You can sleep when you’re dead,’” said Green.

Nefer Nekhet, one of Murphy’s many granddaughters, attended the ceremony at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building in Harlem. Nekhet said that even at 114 her grandmother was not finished sharing all she knew with the younger generations.

“We tell her, ‘Grandma you’ve been here a very long time,’” says Nekhet. “And she says, ‘I’m here because you all don’t know how to live. I’m here to teach you all how to live and things to do.’”

For more information about AFRAM and the Union’s caucus program, speak to your organizer or delegate or go to www.1199seiu.org/caucuses.