A celebration of the legacy of William "Bill" Lucy: A Truly Magical Night

The evening of December 10, 2023, was coined: ‘Make a Joyful Noise’. Hundreds of union and civil rights activists filled the ballroom of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco to pay homage to Sibling William Bill Lucy on this celebration of his 90th birthday. Some of the accolades used that evening described Mr Lucy, as: “the gold standard”, “a courageous visionary”, “a charismatic changer maker” and “the North Star of the labor movement.”

Reverend Terrence Melvin, the current International President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, reflected that we were all witnessing a tribute to a rare human being, celebrating a rare milestone. The night was indeed truly magical.

A host of presenters who gave tribute to Brother Lucy’s global legacy include:

  • Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO President
  • Fred Redmond, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer 
  • Lee Saunders, International President of AFSCME
  • Representative Maxine Waters (CA-D)
  • Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Clayola Brown, CBTU First Vice-President and Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships and Racial Justice, AFL-CIO, A. Philip Randolph Institute President

On a fateful day in February 1968, Brother Lucy began forging his global legacy of inspiring activist transitioning in subsequent years to become “a hero for members from every generation”. Later in 1972 he was elected as the first Black Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME, one of the highest-ranking Black union leaders in organized labor at that time. To his acumen he didn’t stop there, he along with 4 other Black union leaders set a steady course of ensuring that Black workers and other underrepresented groups would become “full partners” in the labor movement’s leadership and contributing a campaign to broaden their mission statement to be more reflective of direction.

I was blessed to have witnessed this memorable evening and given the opportunity to present him with a signed framed copy of a resolution entitled ‘Legacy to William Lucy’ unanimously passed by the Delegation of the Oregon AFSCME 2023 Biennial Convention on April 29th, 2023.

Here it is, 55 years later, in his retirement, he continues to voice that, “Those that make history seldom see the footprints that they leave because the path is always before them.”