Struggle and commitment to justice bred change during the 1960s and 1970s. Almost 50 years ago in Charleston, S.C., African-American employees of the South Carolina Medical College Hospital went on strike. They sought recognition for the Retail and Drug Hospital Employees union, Local 1199B and justice for 12 co-workers who were fired for protesting working conditions. A historic event that drew civil rights leaders including Coretta Scott King and Ralph Abernathy was resolved after four months under threat of solidarity strikes from other unions. In the settlement, workers regained their jobs with a new grievance process and pay increase.
Louise Brown was one of the original 12 hospital workers who lost her job in the struggle for change. She joins civil rights photographer Cecil Williams and Bobby Donaldson, director of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research, for a discussion following two screenings in the Black Stories: Two Cities film series at the Nickelodeon Theatre on Monday, Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. The screening event is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences.
The first film, “I am Somebody,” tells the story of the African-American hospital workers strike. It was produced by Madeline Anderson in 1970 and uncovers social injustices that lay just beneath Charleston’s charming tourism industry.
Also part of Feb. 19’s Black Stories: Two Cities series is “Brick by Brick,” a film produced in 1982 by Shirikiana Aina. This film explores the issues of gentrification within the context of global struggles of displacement and power.
The screenings and talk are open to the public, and tickets are $5. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the Nickelodeon Theatre.