Zola Brown, 1199 SEIU National Benefit Fund Rochester Area Coordinator and past Vice-president of 1199 Rochester, was awarded the prestigious 2017 Lena Gantt Award.
Action for a Better Community (ABC) honored Brown for her outstanding community service and extensive efforts to advocate for social and economic justice. A second-generation union activist, Zola Brown is dedicated to assisting economically disadvantaged community members." Remarks of Zola Brown accepting the Lena Gantt Community Service Award:
“This is truly an honor. I want to thank City Council President Loretta Scott for the nomination, ABC President James Norman, Board and Staff. I am grateful for this award. I would like to dedicate this distinguished award to my mother, my daughter and my 1199 SEIU Union Family. The work of Lena Gantt embodies all that we stand for as a union. I have three words that describe those efforts: Agitate/ Educate/ Organize.
I want you to repeat each word after me”
1. Agitate –Lena Gantt did not except the barriers that kept our community’s poor. She stepped out on faith to build a movement. She probably didn’t take no for an answer.
2. Educate -Racism builds barriers. There is no crash course, social media, or a diversity program that can teach you about how to deal with racism. Stop ignoring the subject and one another. The word racism is powerful, and it keeps us divided on all levels. Take a moment and sit down. Listen to each other. Have real dialogue with an open mind and heart. I know some will never change, but our children are counting on most of you to do so. Teach our children about the work of Lena and others alike, so our young people will take pride in building a better future for Rochester.
3. Organize –I love the word “Better “from ABC. I wish I had a t-shirt with that word. Come together to remove the barriers that keep people poor. People want better wages, better housing and if a group of workers wants to organize in a union, you better not stand in the way because they are trying to organize and do better. We want our community to stop knocking at the door of Mr. Poor. It’s time to kick it down! I’m sick and tired of him. Lena Gantt and her son David stood up to remove those barriers. So, brothers and sisters, if you want your work to speak for you like Lena and her son David, repeat those words “Agitate/, Educate/ Organize” and that’s how you take Action for a Better Community. Thank you. I am truly honored.”