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Social Unionism in Action

ILGWU mobile health unit at 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

ILGWU Archives (#5780PB40f16bp), Kheel Center, Cornell University.

The 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery (Alabama)—pictured above—was one of the highlights of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led the march in an effort to force the U.S. Congress to pass legislation guaranteeing Southern blacks the right to vote.

Pictured above is one of the ILGWU’s mobile health centers, speeding past the marchers on Highway 40, traveling east to Montgomery in order to be prepared to treat the marchers when they reach their destination.

Trained medical personnel traveled in huge tractor trailers like the one pictured above, usually pulling up beside a factory for weeks or longer in order to provide union members with health assessments and treatments. Dr. Richard Heilman directed the mobile health centers program for the union in the 1960s, and he and his wife, together with RN Emily Stead, often worked and traveled with the mobile health care units.