In this WSB newsfilm clip dated March 28, 1973, members of the Poor People's Union demonstrate against the Reed Drug Company in front of one of its Atlanta drugstores.
The clip begins with a shot of a group of African American protesters picketing Reed's Discount Drugs, taken from the opposite side of the street. The camera zooms in closer, and captures the signage on the entrance of the drugstore. Next, Hosea Williams, standing with a group of protesters in front of Reed's Discount Drugs, addresses the group's concerns to the camera; as he speaks, pedestrians continue to make their way down the sidewalk behind the group of protesters.
Speaking directly to the camera, Williams explains that a Reed Drug Company employee came to the Poor People's Union office after having complained to Reed's "many times" about grievances that were not redressed by the company's management. The Poor People's Union investigated the situation at the Reed Drug Company, and found the company to be guilty of unfair labor practices and racism. The Poor People's Union attempted to collect union authorization cards from Reed's employees; when management from Reed's found out that representatives from the Poor People's Union had been facilitating unionization efforts, the company retaliated against their employees by administering polygraph tests and fines. In response, the employees voted to wage a work stoppage strike and boycott of Reed Drug Company's twenty-six locations in the Atlanta area. Williams describes the strike as a "result of Reed's retaliating on these people because they tried to enter the Poor People's Union."
Next, a police officer crosses the street in front of Reed's Discount Drugs, walks around the picket line of chanting demonstrators, and enters the drugstore. This is followed by a closeup shot of several picketers in front of Reed's Discount Drugs, taken from the neck down. They are wearing protest placards around their necks; some of the signs include "Reed's pay slave wages," "Help the poor people's union," and "Poor people's union of America." As they picket, the protesters sing "We Shall Overcome."
Hosea Williams founded the Poor People's Union of America in 1972 in Atlanta, Georgia, while serving as the executive director of the DeKalb/Metro-Atlanta branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Poor People's Union was established with the intent to organize Atlanta's working poor by negotiating grievances and securing job stability, pensions, and health care benefits. The Poor People's Union partnered with the Distributive Workers of America, formed in 1969 as the first multi-racial union led by an African American president and an executive board comprised largely of people of color. Although the Poor People's Union did not become as successful as it had endeavored to be, the organization supported significant efforts to aid underrepresented workers in Atlanta.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.