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Sylvia Woods (March 15, 1909[1]) was an African American labor rights activist. During the Great Depression, Woods fought for the rights of both black workers and white workers.[2] She also fought for racial and sexual equality in the work force. She did so by organizing sit-down strikes and other protests at the laundry she worked at. Woods was one of the organizers of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).[3] She helped to establish United Autoworkers local (UAW) in Bendix.[1] fBecause of her efforts, the local UAW passed rules to stop discrimination based on sex. Woods was also one of the organizers of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).[3] Woods was also the chair of the Chicago Committee to Free Angela Davis. Angela Davis was an African American politician who was in prison for crimes she didn't commit.[1]

Early Life[change | change source]

Sylvia Woods was born in New Orleans. Some of her views on life and labor rights were inspired by her father, a follower of Marcus Garvey and a military trade unionist.[4] When Woods was 16, she moved to Chicago to find work.[2] Due to the Great Depression, jobs were hard to get. Woods still managed to get a job at the Great Western Laundry on the Near West Side.[1] Later on, she would stage her first strike at the laundry.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Places of Women's Labor Activism in Chicago (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gross, Linda (22 October 1976). "Tribute to Woman Union Organizers". Los Angeles Times.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Picone, Linda (11 Mar 1977). "Women union organizer sees resurgence by rank and file". Minneapolis Tribune.
  4. Mccormick, Ruth (1977). "union maids". Cineaste.