Local Trade Coalition Honors the Community

Councilman Hobbs with Cheryl Tyler Folsom and Anita Madison

By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

The 35th annual Black History Celebration, sponsored by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) Toledo Chapter, was held on Saturday, February 24 at Premier Banquet Hall in Toledo.

Cheryl Folson, CBTU Toledo chapter chairperson, and Anita Madison, event chair, opened the celebration with a welcome statement, followed by the innovation and singing of the Black National Anthem. Petee Talley introduced the moderator, Fletcher Word, owner and publisher of The Sojourner’s Truth Newspaper.

“Fletcher is the real deal,” shared Talley during the introduction. “He will lead a thought provoking discussion.”

CBTU selected three honorees who also participated on the panel. Juanita Greene earned the Community Service Award, Toledo City Councilman John Hobbs III earned the Political Action Award, Mark Buford earned the Trade Unionist Award. The panelists addressed questions about workforce development, community involvement and youth engagement.

Buford joined the UAW in 1978, elected to various union leadership positions, appointed to the American Red Cross Labor Liaison position, married with three children, and works on numerous political campaigns. “People need to understand that unions are the largest voting block,” he began. “We offer rides to the polls and advocate for those that we endorse. Union workers from every walk of life, from Toledo Zoo to school employees.”

Juanita Greene worked for local banking institutions, worked for Toledo’s Department of Neighborhoods and other government positions, and serves on the board of Black-Brown Coalition and Toledo Community Coalition. “Unions need to be a part of groups like CBTU,” she began. “It shows that unions care, that unions are involved in the community and with nonprofits.”

Councilman John Hobbs III is a lifelong Toledoan, third generation master barber, former coached track and field, current pastor, husband and father. “I don’t have all the answers,” he began. “But we need to empower youth in the workforce because we have to attract them so they can take on more leadership roles. Allow them to do it their way.”

At the end of the panel discussion a number of attendees were asked to share thoughts about their activities in the union movement including, U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and State Sen. Paula Hicks Hudson.

Additionally, the Frederick Douglass Community Association and Executive Director Reggie Williams received a special recognition and monitory donation. The program concluded with closing remarks.

“Thank you to the panel, thank you. We are excited to honor you tonight,” shared Folson, CBTU president.

“Thank you all for participating and supporting this program,” said Madison. “Thank you to those who volunteered, thank you to the moderator and panel for agreeing to participate.”

The mission of the CBTU is “to fulfill the dreams of Black trade unionists, both living and deceased, who … have courageously and unremittingly struggled to build a national movement that would bring … strengths and varied talents to bear in an unending effort to achieve economic, political and social justice for every American.”