May 25, 2006 – IAM members and leaders were among thousands of delegates and guests filling the hall in Orlando, Florida for the opening session of the 35th annual International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).
The theme of this year’s week-long gathering; “Continuing the Fight for a New Economic Order,” resonated from the podium and was welcomed by delegates who cheered fiery speeches by CBTU President Bill Lucy and Rainbow Coalition founder Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Lucy repeatedly praised the founders of CBTU as pioneers in the development of an organization that provides a unique voice to African American workers and union members.
Saluting the accomplishments of delegates at the first CBTU convention in Chicago, Lucy urged the delegates in the room to “Look back, but bring someone forward.”
Delegates rose to their feet again and again as Rev. Jesse Jackson ripped into the Bush administration for the inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina and for the trio of tax cuts that delivered lopsided benefits for wealthy Americans.
Jackson spared neither political party in his remarks. “We are trapped by one party with two names in this country,” said Jackson, who called for a renewal of mass action as a legitimate response to the failure of leadership by both parties. “We need to change direction, not just leaders,” said Jackson.