Human Rights Conference Embraces Diversity

During the opening day of the IAM Human Rights Conference, TCU President Bob Scardelletti, left, and IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, right, present retired Pullman Car Porter Sollie Mitchell with appreciation awards for his 35 years of service. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was an important leader in the civil rights movement and the advancement of African-American workers.

Hundreds of IAM members and guests were in attendance for the 2011 Inaugural International Human Rights Conference at the Lake Buena Vista Palace Hotel in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Diane Babineaux, Chief of Staff to the International President, opened the conference with a warm welcome and then a panel of distinguished guests took part in the “Preserving Human Rights through Political and Community Activism” town hall meeting.

“There really are two kinds of people in this nation – the powerful and the powerless,” said panelist William Lucy, President of the Black Trade Unionists, speaking on the importance of this week’s event. “This conference is one more advancement along a long line of leadership taken on by the labor movement.”

Other panelists included Clayola Brown, President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation; Gregory Cendana, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance; Mary Cornish, Senior Partner of the Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre and Cornish law firm; Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; and Peggy Shorey, Executive Director of Pride at Work. Civil rights activist and radio host Joe Madison served as moderator.

A special presentation was also made to 93-year-old retired Pullman Porter Sollie Mitchell. TCU National President Bob Scardelletti and IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger presented Mitchell with two award plaques.

“I would have never thought this would happen to me,” said a very moved Mitchell. “I can’t say thank you enough. And I want each of you to remember all the work you do today because 93 years from today, you too could be standing here accepting this honor.”

The week’s remaining speakers include IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart, IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Bob Martinez, Jr., IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary Allen, IAM Headquarters General Vice President Rich Michalski, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, and President and Founder of the National Action Network Reverend Al Sharpton.

Click here for more photos of the conference.

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