The Rev. Alvis Martin has spent the past 30 years as a union member and lobbyist promoting public policy to protect union workers, advocating for diversity within organized labor, and standing up for the disenfranchised. He will speak as part of the University’s Black History Month events at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 28, in the Old Main Room of the Bone Student Center.

During his talk “Civil Rights and the Labor Movement: An Alliance Built Out of Necessity,” Martin will discuss the labor vision for civil rights embraced by black union and civil rights organizers such as A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin and the support for black civil rights provided by union leaders such as Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers. An exploration of both the historic and current importance of trade unionism in progressive racial politics, as well as the cultural and political obstacles confronting interracial class alliances will also be addressed during the evening’s event.

After serving many years as an active member and elected officer of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, Martin went on to dedicate several years lobbying on behalf of the Illinois State Federation of Labor. While there he spearheaded the first-ever celebration of African American labor history for the AFL-CIO, and conducted numerous workshops for union locals on increasing diversity amongst their rank and file.

Martin currently sits on the national board of directors of the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porters Museum and is the A. Philip Randolph Institute Chicago Chapter vice president. He has also dedicated tireless efforts to pass legislation protecting homeless veterans, and elderly and gravely ill prison inmates.

He is now assistant pastor of Mt. Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Englewood and has his own consulting firm, lobbying on behalf of various organizations dedicated to serving union construction workers, black construction contractors, and black business owners.

The talk is sponsored by the Department of History and the Office of the President. It is part of the Illinois State University Speaker Series. The series seeks to bring innovative and enlightening speakers to the campus with the aim of providing the community with a platform to foster dialogue, cultivate enriching ideas, and continue an appreciation of learning as an active and lifelong process. All talks are free and open to the public.