Nate Smith: a Labor Leader Who Fought for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Nate Smith was born Feb 3, 1923.  Mr. Smith, at age 12 lied his way into the US Navy.  He served at sea in World War II, until his age was discovered, and he received an honorable discharge. At age 16 Mr. Smith became a heavyweight boxer with Art Rooney as a promoter. He then used his boxing credentials to get into the Operating Engineers Union, which was segregated at the time.  He saw the racism in the union that kept people out, and used the opportunity to fight tooth and nail for black people and women to have access to those jobs. Mr Smith created Operation DIG, which provided preemployment training to African Americans and women looking to enter the building trades. When he found that those efforts werent enough to get folks hired, he marched 800 people to USX tower, and laid down in front of a bulldozer.  Nate Smith was considered by many to be the most hated man in Pittsburgh by many while he was active in the Civil Rights Movement, angry bystanders would hurl slurs, and bottles at him as he marched.  Today, Mr. Smith is remembered as her should be: a hero for workers everywhere, in the journey towards a more equitable workforce.  

Nate Smith Feb 3, 1923 – March 31, 2011

Photo credit – Harry Coughanour, Post-Gazette

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