78 years ago today, 400 black women stood up for their rights … and won!


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May 6, 1937, 400 black female tobacco stemmers spontaneously went on strike at I.N. Vaughan in Richmond, Virginia. The women often worked more than 80 hours a week for a total of $3. They toiled in a cramped factory with tobacco dust coating the air and their lungs. With the help of the Southern Negro Youth Congress and a show of solidarity from white female workers in the CIO’s Clothing and Textile Workers Union who walked the picket lines with them, they won their battle. They gained a wage increase, eight-hour work day and recognition of their union. Their victory shocked not only the employer but also the segregated Richmond society.


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