Coast-to-coast book tour introducing Cleophas Williams, first Black president of San Francisco dockworkers

Chris Silvera, 99-year-old hostess Sadie Williams, and Clarence Thomas at the book launch, Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley, California, on July 29. Photo: Delores Lemon-Thomas
At Harriet Tubman Solidarity Center, Baltimore, August 10. Photo: Delores Lemon-Thomas
At St Mary’s Church, Harlem, N.Y., on August 5. Additional book signing parties were held in San Francisco and Los Angeles. SLL photo: Gloria Verdieu

Clarence Thomas, a Black labor union leader and third-generation retired member of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, published — and wrote an introduction to — a new book called “Cleophas Williams: My Life Story in the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 10” (DeClare Publishing, 2023). 

Thomas is on a coast-to-coast book-signing tour promoting this historic work.

The book is a compilation of Cleophas Williams’ writings — selected by Clarence Thomas and edited by Delores Lemon-Thomas, in consultation with Cleophas’ widow Sadie Williams — giving a first-hand account of the life and work of the first African American president of ILWU Local 10. Williams was a union leader, civil-rights activist, and community organizer who played a major role in the fight for social justice and economic equality in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The book comes at a time when there is renewed interest in the history of the labor movement, the Black liberation movement, and the fight for social justice.

It provides a rare inside look at working on the waterfront in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-20th century. Williams’s story is one of struggle and triumph, as he became a powerful voice for working people and for civil-rights unionism. 

Williams’ writings also illuminate the history of the ILWU, one of the most militant and successful unions in U.S. history.

The book is a valuable contribution to the history of African Americans in the labor movement. Williams’ story is a reminder that African Americans have played a major role in the fight for workers’ rights, making significant contributions to the labor movement. The book is also a powerful reminder of the importance of fighting against racism and for economic equality.

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