Coming out of high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but my mom called up the Department of Labor and asked for a list of all the available apprenticeships in Maryland. By pure luck, I ended up in the IBEW Local 24’s program. It appealed to me because the wages were good and steadily increased for the entire five years of my apprenticeship. I didn’t know many people in Baltimore who made wages like that. I wanted to make sure I held onto what I was earning. I followed the lead of journeyman electricians around me and invested my earnings, buying houses in Baltimore with an eye to becoming a businessman. That got me more involved in the local community.
Meanwhile, to preserve my foundation, I got involved in the union’s activities. I volunteered for events. I attended union meetings. I went to the parties. Three weeks out of my apprenticeship, the Local 24 business
manager asked me to come on staff. I became only the second African American on their staff and a young one, too (in my 20s surrounded by a lot of 50-somethings).
When Ernie Grecco, the president of the Metro Baltimore Council of the AFLCIO, decided to rejuvenate the Young Trade Unionists, he asked my business manager to put me on the organization. Becoming a part of that organization broadened my horizons. I saw the wider world of labor.
My business manager shifted my direction. The whole experience overall, I’ve gained a new sense of what our local community needs. I’m active in Baltimore, I’m active in the IBEW and I’m active in the Young Trade Unionists. If my mom hadn’t made that call to the Dept. of Labor, I don’t know where I’d be today.