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Congrats to First DC Transit Union African American Officer: 1974 | by Washington Area Spark
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Congrats to First DC Transit Union African American Officer: 1974

Walter Bierwagen, former president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 and current ATU International vice president congratulates Rodney Richmond after his installation as secretary-treasurer of the union in January 1974. Richardson would go on to become a vice president of the ATU International.

 

Also shown are George Davis (to right of Richmond), president and Robert Delaney (to right of Davis), Recording Secretary. From far left, board members George Rexroad, Mansfield Clemons and James “Tommy” Thomas Jr. (a future president) are also shown.

 

Bierwagen spanned the era of integration of the transit system. When he became involved in union politics in the mid-1940s, African Americans were barred from operating buses and streetcars. After his election as president of the union in 1950, he aided the integration of the operator jobs in 1955. He lived to see Thomas become the first African American president of the union in 1983.

 

For a blog post on the turmoil in the D.C. transit union from 1974-80, see washingtonareaspark.com/2020/03/16/george-davis-and-the-t...

 

For more information and related images on the fight to integrate the Washington, D.C. transit system, see

 

Photographer is from Chase Studios. Image is from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 via Craig Simpson.

 

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Taken in January 1974