Honoring ILWU veteran Cleophus Williams

Cleophus Williams conferring with Harry Bridges.

Local 10 members, pensioners, friends and family gathered for an honorary lunch on June 20th to celebrate the 89th birthday of ILWU icon Cleophus Williams. International Secretary Treasurer Willie Adams presented a plaque to Williams, praising him as “A renaissance man of strong will and conviction who has played an equally strong role in his community.” Community supporters attending the event included many from the Downs Memorial United Methodist Church in Oakland and the Oakland YMCA – both groups in which Williams has been active for years.

Local 10 President Mike Villeggiante said, “When Cleophus retired, he left us with some big shoes to fill. But he continues to be a valuable part of our living history at Local 10, and provides an important role model for all of us – especially the younger members.”

Bay Area Pensioners President George Cobbs served as a gracious Master of Ceremonies, saying it was an honor for the Pensioners to sponsor the lunch. He thanked the talented cooking team led by Pensioner Joe Lucas and the ladies of the Bay Area Pensioners for serving up a delicious meal.

Williams’ rise — from a humble Arkansas family that was terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan to the first African- American President of ILWU Local 10 where he served three terms — is detailed in Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU by Harvey Schwartz. Copies are for sale in the back of this issue.

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