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2016 Diversity Committee Report to the 100th AFM Convention

by Lovie Smith-Wright, President of Local 65-699 and Diversity Committee Chair

Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) member Ashleigh Gordon (center) receives the Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award from Diversity Committee Chair Lovie Smith-Wright. [1]

Local 9-535 (Boston, MA) member Ashleigh Gordon (center) receives the Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award from Diversity Committee Chair Lovie Smith-Wright.

The Diversity Committee had a full agenda at the 100th AFM Convention. Following is a summary of the committee’s activities.

As a follow-up from our 2013 convention, the first presentation of the Diversity Committee at the 100th AFM Convention was the Women’s Caucus, Monday evening, June 20. There were 28 delegates and guests present.  The caucus lasted approximately 75 minutes.

Topics of discussion included interest in seeing a permanent subcommittee of the Diversity Committee to represent women. It would be tasked to come together in support of the union’s agenda on organizing, legislative-political work, and job actions. There was a desire to have a women’s caucus meet more often than every three years. It was noted that, since 2019 will be the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, perhaps a part of that AFM Convention might focus on womens’ contributions to the labor movement and society in general. Our gratitude goes out to Diversity Committee Member and Local 6 Secretary-Treasurer Beth Zare for organizing and chairing the meeting.

The next order of convention business for the Diversity Committee was the presentation of the 2016 Diversity Awards on Tuesday, June 21. The two awardees selected by a non-AFM committee of labor leaders were:

Ashleigh Gordon, recipient of the Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award. Gordon is a member of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA). Congratulations to Gordon, Local 9-535 Pat President Hollenbeck, and members of the local.

Christian Vegh received the Charles McDaniel Youth Award. Vegh is a member of the AFM Local 566 (Windsor, ON). Congratulations to Vegh, Local 566 President Christopher Borshuk, and members of the local.

The committee met later to watch a Diversity Awards video produced by Assistant to the President and Director of AFM Freelance & Membership Development Paul Sharpe during the 2010 Convention. It includes statements from members of the 2010 Diversity Committee that provide insight for the newest members of the Diversity Committee. It also outlined the committee’s progress in an effort to create a bridge to where the AFM needs to go.

Local 566 (Windsor, ON) member Christian Vegh (right) receives the Charles McDaniel Youth Award from Diversity Committee Chair Lovie Smith-Wright, while AFM Legislative-Political and Diversity Director Alfonso Pollard (left) looks on. [2]

Local 566 (Windsor, ON) member Christian Vegh (right) receives the Charles McDaniel Youth Award from Diversity Committee Chair Lovie Smith-Wright, while AFM Legislative-Political and Diversity Director Alfonso Pollard (left) looks on.

Committee members expressed their desire to organize around important issues that will further the advancement of the Federation. In an effort to create a contemporary roadmap, each committee member was asked to express what was important to them concerning diversity, so that we would have all concerns and issues on the table for presentation to the development subcommittee and to the AFM International Executive Board.

The Diversity Committee was very active in the 100th AFM Convention. Of special note is that the group, not only met as a committee, but several members of the Diversity Committee also served on the Law, Finance, Organization & Legislation, and Small Locals committees.

I was appointed earlier this year by AFM President Ray Hair to serve on the 2017 Planning Committee for the AFL-CIO MLK Civil and Human Rights Conference, sponsored by the Civil, Human, and Women’s Rights Division of the AFL-CIO. I was also elected as an alternate delegate to the AFL-CIO Convention.

A Development Committee was created as a subcommittee of the Diversity Committee. It is made up of the AFM Director of Diversity plus two members from each of the following: the original Diversity Council; the 2003 Diversity Committee, which became the first standing committee of the AFM; and the newest members since the 2013 AFM Convention.

The Development Committee will plan how to work and implement the ideas and concerns that have been discussed. Its focus will be on engaging musicians of color in all AFM jurisdictions.  They will use the Diversity mission statement and position papers as guides so that the Diversity Committee remembers why it was created.

Diversity Committee [3]

Diversity Committee

Members of the AFM Diversity Committee are: Director of Diversity Alfonso Pollard; Chair, Local 65-699 President Lovie Smith-Wright; Local 105 (Spokane, WA) Vice President Tina Morrison; Local 586 (Phoenix, AZ) member Madelyn Roberts; Local 802 (New York City) member Miho Matsuno; Local 5 (Detroit, MI) Secretary-Treasurer Susan Barna Ayoub; Local 6 Secretary-Treasurer Beth Zare; Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) President John Acosta; Local 369 (Las Vegas, NV) Secretary-Treasurer Keith Nelson; Local 174-496 (New Orleans, LA) President “Deacon” John Moore; Local 56 (Grand Rapids, MI) member Bennie Keys; Local 424 (Richmond, CA) Secretary Mike Sasaki; and Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) member Otis Ducker.