It is with a heavy heart that CLUW reports the passing on March 28, 2012 of our beloved sister, Addie L. Wyatt. Sister Wyatt was a remarkable woman whose influence will be felt by many. CLUW sisters and brothers extend our deepest sympathy to her family, friends and all whose lives she touched over the years. Sister Wyatt was instrumental in the founding of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and gave the keynote address to the 3,200 delegates at the first gathering of CLUW.
Oral interview of Rev. Wyatt which took place on December 14, 2002 in Chicago and was conducted by Joan McGann Morris and transcribed by Helen Ramirez-Odell (AFT), member Chicago CLUW Chapter. The interview was done on behalf of the Working Women’s History Project.
Video tribute to Sister Addie Wyatt. CLUW member Julie Weiss (IAFF), Kansas City Chapter, conducted an interview on August 24, 2010 in Chicago and created the video of Sister Wyatt that was part of a project to celebrate CLUW sisters who played an important part in our history. In attendance at this interview also were Michele Newby (IAFF) CLUW National Vice President and Katie Jordan (Workers United/SEIU), President Chicago CLUW Chapter.
Sister Wyatt received the Mother Jones Award from President Gloria Johnson at CLUW’s Convention in 2003 in Seattle. Mary O’Melveny who served as CLUW’s General Counsel is at her left along with Jean Hervey, CLUW’s Executive Vice Presdient.
Addie Wyatt Obituary
It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing yesterday of our beloved sister, Addie L. Wyatt. Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized. We will forward more information as soon as it becomes available.
Sister Wyatt was a remarkable woman whose influence will be felt by many. CLUW sisters and brothers extend our deepest
sympathy to her family, friends and all whose lives she touched over the years.
Sister Wyatt was instrumental in the founding of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and gave the keynote address to the 3,200 delegates at the first gathering of CLUW. She served as National Vice President from 1974-1977 and then as Executive Vice President from 1977-1988; from 1989 to the present she was Executive Vice President Emerita. She remained interested and supportive of CLUW until her death.
Addie Wyatt was elected the first woman local union vice president of the United Packinghouse, Food and Allied Workers in 1953 and then the first woman International Vice President of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America where she was the Director of the Women’s Affairs Department. In 1976 she was the first African American woman International Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, serving as the union’s Director of the Civil Rights and Women’s Department.
Addie Wyatt was appointed by Eleanor Roosevelt to serve on the Labor Legislation Committee of the Commission on the Status of Women. She served as a member of President John F. Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women. Sister Wyatt was a founding member of the National Organization for Women and a leader in the struggle for an Equal Rights Amendment. In the fall 1975 issue of the CLUW NEWS it was reported that she was scheduled to debate ERA on Barbara Walters’ “Not for Women Only”. A former Time magazine woman of the year (1975), Sister Wyatt was inducted to the Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2005.
Addie L. Wyatt was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi on March 28, 1924, the oldest of eight children. Her parents, Ambrose and Maggie Nolan Cameron, moved the family to Chicago while she was still a child. She married Claude S. Wyatt Jr. on May 12, 1940, and began working in the Chicago meat packing industry in 1941. Two sons, Renaldo Wyatt and Claude S. Wyatt III, were born in this period.
She and her husband, Dr. Claude Wyatt, Jr., founded the Wyatt Choral Ensemble in 1944. Sister Wyatt was ordained in 1955 and the next year the Wyatts began working closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She became a labor adviser to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She was a leading civil rights campaigner in Chicago during the 1960s, serving on the Action Committee of the Chicago Freedom Movement and organizing protests. The Wyatts also worked with Rev. Jesse Jackson in helping to found Operation Breadbasket, which distributed food to underprivileged people in 12 American cities in 1962 and later became involved in its successor, P.U.S.H. (People United to Serve Humanity).
Upon her retirement she served as co-pastor of Vernon Park Church of God in Chicago, the church, which she and her husband helped found.
Sister Wyatt leaves with us a life furthering the advancement of labor, civil and women’s rights.
She will be sorely missed by us all.