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The Knights Of Labor, the largest and most effective labor union of its time, formed in 1869. Perhaps inspired by NLU’s inclusion of Black workers, it opened its union doors to Black and women workers. This move was unheard of at the time, and it became a powerful force in the labor movement. Yet, the Knights were not organized and the group eventually faded by the 1890s.

Scholar and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois noted in several writings that national labor unions were excluding qualified workers unfairly and often spoke out against the divisive practice.

Today, there are several national union groups that work within the African-American community and even assist in important campaigns such as voter registration, education reform, health laws and other causes that effect all.

Little Known Black History Fact: The First Black Labor Union  was originally published on

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