Integrating New Orleans' Public Transit Workforce

Freddie Sawyer, New Orleans' first African American bus driver, then and now

The US Congress voted to make Labor Day a holiday back in 1894, following a railroad strike over wage cuts and long hours. In the hundred plus years since then, workers have continued to seek out safer and more just working conditions. Here in New Orleans, as in much of the country, one big change we've witnessed is the role of a worker's race in determining what type of job he or she does. Half a century ago, Freddie Sawyer integrated public transit's higher echelons when he became New Orleans' first black bus driver, and ten years later, Ronald Lewis drastically improved the conditions of the track workers upon whose labor our system of street cars depend. 
Thanks to Robin White for research assistance.


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 © Eve Abrams 2010