History of AFRAM
We are part of the National African American Caucus (AFRAM) of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which advocates for our educational opportunities, training mentorship, leadership development, and networking. Our path to building a strong, represented voice within the national union has been hard-fought by Black union leaders whose legacies we carry forward here in Pennsylvania:
- In the 1970’s and 1980’s: Before AFRAM was created, Black SEIU leaders such as Ophelia McFadden, Peter Otley, Will Smith, and Herman Lewis advocated for a Civil & Human Rights Department within SEIU, and a Civil & Human Rights Committee of the International Executive Board.
- In 1992: Patricia A. Ford led the efforts to form regional Caucuses within our national union. This led to the Western Conference African American Caucus (WCAAC), the only caucus in SEIU at the time.
- In 1996: Black members of the International Executive Board drafted a national African American agenda and held the first SEIU African American Leadership Conference in Atlanta during Black History Month to call for a National SEIU African American Caucus. In addition to over 300 SEIU members attending the conference, SEIU President Richard Cordtz, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Betty Bednarcyzk, Georgia Congress Persons, Cynthia McKinney and John Lewis, and community activist Rev. James Orange joined.
- At the 1996 International Convention: The united support of African American convention delegates caused resolutions for National Caucuses to pass and led to a record number of African American leaders to be elected to positions, such as Patricia A. Ford as Executive Vice President.
- Now: AFRAM is a federation of Regional Caucuses, with 22 National officers. Local unions, such as SEIU Healthcare PA have their own AFRAM chapters which carry out the mission of racial, economic, social, and political equality within society and our union.
You can read our national bylaws here.