APRI President Clayola Brown, Named AFL-CIO’s Civil and Human Rights Committee Chairperson

– Clayola Brown

In 2020, the AFL-CIO announced the formation of its Civil and Human Rights Committee. This month, Clayola Brown was named as the Committee’s first Chairperson.

I believe that Labor Rights, Civil Rights and International Human Rights are bridges which cross the broad expanse of disparities in this country and abroad.”

The President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Clayola Brown became the first female to serve in that role in 2004. Her lifelong commitment to labor activism began in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, where she—alongside her activist mother—campaigned to organize the Manhattan Shirt Factory.  She eventually became Education Director for the newly merged Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union; was appointed Civil Rights Director and served as Manager for the Laundry Division affiliate for more than 13 years.  In 1991, under UNITE! She was elected International Vice President and continues to serve in that capacity and as Civil Rights Director under the repositioned union Workers United. In 1995, she was elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, where she served for 10 years as a Vice President.

Read More About Her Work Here

Statement from the AFL-CIO: Longtime Labor Activist Named AFL-CIO Civil Rights Director

The AFL-CIO announced Clayola Brown’s appointment as Civil, Human and Women’s Rights director, tasked with guiding the federation in our fight against America’s legacy of systemic racism, exclusion and injustice. A lifelong civil rights and labor activist, Brown has served as president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) since 2004.

“From her first days organizing textile workers to her service on the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council to her unparalleled leadership at the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Clayola has always recognized that the struggle for worker power is intrinsically linked to the fight against racial and social injustice,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The labor movement is stronger for her decades of committed activism, and I’m thrilled to have such an accomplished trade unionist taking on this critical role.”

After getting her start organizing textile workers alongside her mother in Charleston, South Carolina, Brown served in key leadership positions with UNITE (now UNITE HERE) and Workers United. She went on to make history as the first woman to lead APRI, an organization of Black trade unionists dedicated to fighting for racial equality and economic justice. Brown also has served on the AFL-CIO Executive Council and the NAACP National Board.

“I’m thrilled to be coming on board,” said Brown. “The labor movement has always been essential to the advancement of Americans’ most fundamental civil and human rights. As our movement continues to surge forward, the demands of working people are going to be heard loud and clear. We’re bringing everything we have to the fights ahead, and we intend to win.”