September 30, 2022
Beatrice Lumpkin Awarded the Inaugural Frank and Beatrice Lumpkin Award
The Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans (IARA) celebrated 20 years of organizing on September, 13th, 2022 during our Senior Power Celebration in Springfield. Over 130 of our retiree leaders gathered at the Plumbers & Steamfitters Hall for an exciting new program, including honoring three retiree champions with awards.
Following 2021’s Senior Power Celebration, the Board Members of IARA decided they wanted to do more to recognize the most dedicated seniors. The seniors who not only power our organization, but who spent their lives building the labor movement, and continue to push onward for a better life for everyone. There was no hesitation or debate in creation of an annual Frank and Beatrice Lumpkin Award.
As one of our most dedicated and passionate movement leaders, Bea has inspired generations of labor leaders. She is invaluable to the advancement of the labor movement in Illinois and the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans.
Jaquie Algee, IARA Board Member, and a Vice President and Director of External Relations with SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, introduced us to Beatrice Lumpkin by reminiscing on Bea’s big personality, energy, passion, and dedication to the Labor Movement.
“When you talk about a leader and model in your life that you can really look up to and aspire to be like, that’s her for me,” Jaquie said about Beatrice Lumpkin.
Katie Jordan, IARA Treasurer and President of Chicago Coalition for Labor Union Women, and Stephanie Collins, IARA Board Member and President of Chicago Metro Retirees presented the inaugural Frank and Beatrice Lumpkin award to Bea. Katie met Bea on the picket lines with the steel workers. She reminded us all of Beatrice’s decades of service to the Labor Movement, especially as the oldest living founder of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, and Bea’s induction into the Labor Union Hall of Fame in 2017.
(Scroll to Bottom to See Video of Presentation and Acceptance of the Award)
Beatrice Lumpkin’s Story
Bea reminded Senior Power Celebration attendees exactly what is on the line this November. She talked about how important it is that we pass the Workers’ Rights Amendment, and prevent a fascist takeover of the United States.
“Just feel the joy. Enjoy the solidarity, because now we are being called on, and I quit smiling for a minute, to do something very serious. It’s nothing less than short of saving humanity. President Biden warned us of a fascist takeover of our country. Fascist control of the United States, the biggest economy in the world, and we know who made it the biggest–the working people! If the fascists got control of that economy, that would kill any chance of saving the world from climate catastrophe and could put us face to face with nuclear war, but it ain’t gonna happen! Because we and our grandchildren and all the intergen alliances we have to form, we are going to get out that midterm vote! We will set the example by passing the Workers’ Rights Amendment in November!”–Beatrice Lumpkin on what’s at stake this November
Bea also reminisced about her late husband, Frank Lumpkin, leader of the Wisconsin Steel Workers, and his organizing of the workers towards better pay and working conditions. Under Frank’s leadership the workers learned to picket, form coalitions. The workers eventually won a multi-million dollar settlement against the mill after 8 years of no wages. Beatrice went on to organize the Wisconsin Steel Workers Women’s Committee to rally community support around the steel workers.
Beatrice’s long history in the labor movement started much before her work with the Steel Workers. Beatrice lied about her age at 15 years old and went to work at a factory where organized her sister workers in one summer. She went on to work as an electronic technician in a steel mill during World War II where she got her first taste of what it was like to fight fascism. Bea later became a public school teacher and taught for and retired from the Chicago Public Schools and became a leader with the Chicago Teachers Union.
The Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans has valued Bea Lumpkin’s leadership, partnership, and experience in the labor movement. We are honored to create this award in Frank and Bea’s names to continue celebrating the people who have built the labor movement and continue to inspire us each and every day.