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Despite Apology, MUSC Still A Bed of Racism
8/26/2015 3:04:51 PM

(l-r): The Coaliton Founder Pastor Thomas Dixon & Carolina Alliance for Fair Employment Chairman Leonard Riley address the media at MUSC Board Meeting Protest back in February
By Barney Blakeney

For many who were a part of the Hospital Workers Strike of 1969 the resolution from the Medical University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees apologizing for the conditions that led to the 110-day boycott rings empty. They still see those conditions at the institution today.

The thought of an apology always is a good thing to those who hold forgiveness as a virtue. But when one offers an apology yet continues the same offending behavior, the recipient can only think the offer is insincere. That’s how several of those who participated in the strike are viewing the apology announced August 14.

Nancy Black was a nurse in 1969 when hundreds of Black workers walked off their jobs in support of 12 nurses who had been fired in an attempt to negotiate with hospital officials over unequal pay and discrimination.

She went to work at the Medical College of South Carolina as a nurse in 1961. She recalls incidents when Black nurses who carried the load for patient care, were discriminated against by their white supervisors and was among those who advocated striking for better pay and working conditions and enlisted other employees to support the effort. When 12 fellow advocates were fired for their unionizing activities, Mrs. Black was among the 50 initial strikers to walk off their jobs March 20, 1969.

From her bedroom on Charleston’s Eastside she remarked about the MUSC apology with ambivalence. The apology is alright, but the hospital still discriminates against Black workers, she said.

Elliott LeGrand was an orderly in 1969. He considers the MUSC apology a thinly veiled attempt to get on the band wagon of apologies coming in the wake of the appallingly racist June 17 massacre of nine Black victims at Emanuel AME Church by accused race-baiter Dylan Roof.

“I was 16 when I started working at the hospital in 1969. In those days any time you saw a Black man working at the hospital he was pushing something - a cart, a bucket or something. That was true when I left there in the 80’s and it’s still true today,” LeGrand said.

The MUSC institution has expanded immensely since 1969 and though the Civil Rights Movement and changing times have resulted in more Blacks in higher positions, the institution in many ways seems in a time warp. Black employees conduct themselves with more confidence and arrogance than the subservience of 1969 dictated, LeGrande said, but relative to whites at the institution, the discrimination remains obvious.

Black workers at MUSC still face disparities in pay and representation in higher level positions, said Carolina Alliance for Fair Employment (CAFE) State Board Chairman Leonard Riley.

“They employ temps for jobs that are done every day like cleaning and serving. If someone is doing a job every day, why don’t they get full benefits? MUSC continues to abuse workers in our community. Black workers at MUSC still are depressed, suppressed and suffer at the hands of bully managers. If they’re sorry about what happened before 1969, they should be doing something about what’s happening now,” Riley countered.

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Jerome Miller Submitted: 1/31/2016
Not only are there discrimination and disparity amongst the workers; THE Institution in it actions states that we do not have local blacks that are interested in pursuing a medical degree from them. They do not go out of their way in recruitment for them. The diversity department which is headed by two Black people does not serve the taxpayers of this community any service of overcoming the dream!!!!! We as taxpayers and people of the community need to call this attitude to the University attention, and demand otherwise!!!!!! I call you Black citizens to action on this matter of concern!!!!

Submitted By: Kisha Davis Submitted: 3/29/2016
Although the Diversity department may be headed by 2 blacks, that does not mean they are in control of the situation. I am a victim of race and age discrimination. After I filed my complaint to the EEOC, MUSC hired a black, lady, manager over the age of 40 to harass me to my breaking point. The black leaders will do whatever the "Higher Ups" tell them to do without question. What started out as a complaint for age and race discrimination has escalated to include retaliation, disability discrimination and FMLA violations. MUSC will "get back at you", and MUSC will break you. My complaints are pending as of this day in Federal court. I couldn't even find an attorney to represent me. I've been taking action since 2011, Pro'se.

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