Members of United Steelworkers Local 8751, the Boston school bus drivers’ union, gave a raucous, pre-school, fightback orientation to the Veolia/Transdev corporation at the Roxbury bus yard on Aug. 31, when Takiyah “Tear ‘Em Down” Thompson from Durham, N.C., showed up to a sheroe’s welcome.
Drivers had heard that Thompson — the North Carolina Central University student and Workers World Party leader who, on Aug. 14, climbed a ladder to topple a mass produced, Jim-Crow-era Confederate statue — would be in town, and conspired to welcome her right. When she came to the floor, the crowd erupted in a celebratory dance to Grievance Chair Garry Murchison’s blasting of the song “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now!”
Many drivers who grew up in Southern states knew Thompson’s name before she arrived, as they had been closely following the action, news of which has swept the country. Some remarked about how as children they had witnessed these Ku Klux Klan propaganda tools go up in their hometowns during the Civil Rights Movement, and they had always wanted to tear them down.
Many drivers who grew up in Haiti had also participated in similar actions, tearing down symbols of the brutal French slavocracy and U.S. dictatorship and replacing them with liberation fighters like Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and John Brown. Everybody wanted their picture taken with Thompson.
Angie Cardosa, a union stalwart and pastry chef extraordinaire, presented Thompson with a red-velvet sheet cake smothered in glorious cream cheese frosting on which she had inscribed, “Thank You Takiyah Thompson AKA Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Dr. Betty Shabazz, Monica Moorehead, Coretta Scott King, Local 8751.” Drivers presented Thompson with Local 8751 honor placards that read, “Build Monuments to Freedom Fighters! Tear Down White Supremacy!” and “Drop the Charges on the Durham, N.C., Freedom Fighters!”
As part of the national days of action Sept. 11 through Sept. 17, USW Local 8751 will be calling the witch-hunting Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews off the hook to demand he drop the bogus charges; propagating resolutions in the labor movement; and sending material aid for our sheroes’ and heroes’ legal defense.