CELEBRATING BEA LUMPKIN: 100 YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE AND INSPIRING GENERATIONS OF ACTIVISTS; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 126
(Extensions of Remarks - July 26, 2018)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1097-E1098]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




    CELEBRATING BEA LUMPKIN: 100 YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE AND 
                   INSPIRING GENERATIONS OF ACTIVISTS

                                 ______
                                 

                       HON. JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY

                              of illinois

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, July 26, 2018

  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, in the 1930s, Bea threw herself feet 
first into the social and political struggles transforming the nation 
during the Great Depression. She attended rallies and stood on street 
corners denouncing Hitler and the wave of fascism gripping Europe. She 
participated in the 1930 National Hunger Protest that saw one million 
unemployed people descend on their state capitols demanding relief. Bea 
joined the fight for unemployment insurance and Social Security--all 
before she graduated from high school in 1934.
  Bea enrolled in Hunter College, a free college for women where she 
studied chemistry. At just 18, she took time off from school to accept 
the challenge of organizing New York's laundry workers, a campaign that 
resulted in 30,000 people (mostly women) organized under the newly-
formed Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO).
  Bea moved to Buffalo in 1942 where she married and had two children, 
Carl and Jeanleah. She and her husband amicably divorced and Bea went 
to work for Western Electric. Bea still found time to organize a 
Wallace for President Committee in support of Progressive Party 
Candidate Henry Wallace's bid for the presidency. At a fundraiser for 
Wallace, Bea met her partner and the love of her life Frank Lumpkin. As 
an interracial couple, they encountered many hard looks and racial 
slurs.
  The two married in 1949 and moved to Gary, Indiana, where they had 
two more children, Paul and John. Bea and Frank were an impressive 
team. When they discovered that the septic tanks in their predominantly 
African-

[[Page E1098]]

American neighborhood had contaminated the water wells, they organized 
their neighbors and launched a seven-year battle that won them safe 
drinking water.
  In 1962, Bea and Frank moved to Chicago, where for decades they were 
involved in every civil rights struggle--and there were many. They 
joined the fight for fair housing, against lynching, and against 
segregation.
  Bea began her career in education at age 47 when she became a Chicago 
Public School teacher. She later became an assistant math professor at 
Malcolm X College, publishing numerous groundbreaking books on the 
multicultural roots of mathematics and science. To this day, she is an 
active member of the Chicago Teachers Union, never missing a rally, 
always fighting for the rights of teachers and their students who 
deserve a quality education.
  In 1983, Harold Washington, former Illinois State Senator and U.S. 
Congressman, ignited the hopes and dreams of Chicagoans across the city 
when he ran for and won election as mayor. Bea and Frank were on the 
frontline of the campaign and remained committed supporters throughout 
his administration.
  That same year, the Republican Governor of Illinois proposed a budget 
that slashed funding for basic human needs. Bea and Frank responded to 
the call to join the Crisis March to Springfield. They walked 200 miles 
to the state Capitol with a group organized by Illinois Public Action, 
stopping for meetings in small towns, talking to the media as they 
went, and being met for the last mile by more than one thousand 
supporters. The Governor capitulated and the cuts were restored. As the 
organizer of that march, I had the opportunity to begin a never-ending 
friendship with Bea and with Frank that lasted until he died.
  Bea wrote many books, but her most acclaimed is Always Bring a Crowd: 
The Story of Frank Lumpkin Steelworker, that chronicles Frank's battle 
against Wisconsin Steel. On March 28, 1980, Wisconsin Steel closed its 
plant with no notice. Three thousand workers lost their jobs, their 
last paycheck, their benefits and their pensions. With Bea at his side, 
Frank formed the Save Our Jobs Committee. Their fight would last 17 
years and win those workers $19 million.
  Bea participated in the formation of the Coalition of Labor Union 
Woman in 1974, remains involved in the organization, and continues to 
mentor young trade union sisters. To this day, Bea remains active on 
the national and local stage. She is an activist member of the Illinois 
Alliance of Retired Americans, fighting to protect and expand Social 
Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She is a familiar face at 
demonstrations, peace vigils, and rallies. She has joined countless 
picket lines including in front of laundries, as she did as a young 
organizer, still fighting for workers' rights.
  By example, Bea Lumpkin has demonstrated how one person's passion for 
social justice can transform families, communities and societies. For 
the last one hundred years, Bea has devoted her life to improving the 
condition of others, from exploited laundry workers in New York City to 
unemployed Steel workers in Chicago, from union women fighting for 
equality in the workplace to seniors demanding affordable health care.
  It's impossible to feel cynical about the potential of ordinary 
people to shape history when one thinks about the indelible mark 
Beatrice Lumpkin has had on so many lives. Her relentless and 
passionate pursuit of justice has inspired me to be a better person and 
fills me with hope for the future.

                          ____________________