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Frank Lumpkin

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Information about Frank Lumpkin

Profile image of Frank Lumpkin

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Labor Leader
Steelworker

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Dark Brown
Favorite Food:
Rice, Grits, Pork Chops, Ham
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
N/A
Favorite Quote:
Let's Get It.

Birthplace

Born:
10/23/1916
Birth Location:
Washington, Georgia

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Labor Leader
Steelworker

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Dark Brown
Favorite Food:
Rice, Grits, Pork Chops, Ham
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
N/A
Favorite Quote:
Let's Get It.

Birthplace

Born:
10/23/1916
Birth Location:
Washington
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Biography

Born the third of 10 children on October 13, 1916, Frank Lumpkin is known for winning a 17-year fight against a steel mill, but he also participated in numerous other struggles for social justice. His family, sharecroppers in Washington, Georgia, moved to Florida to pick oranges when Lumpkin was six years old. At age 13, he lost two fingers when others dared him to touch a power line. Two years later, Lumpkin left school to pick fruit full-time.

As a young man, Lumpkin boxed well enough to fight professionally. He also worked in the orange groves and as a chauffeur. Following a brother who found better pay as a steelworker, Lumpkin moved to Buffalo, New York and got a job at Bethlehem Steel in 1941. Joining the merchant marines in 1943, he took part in a strike organized by the integrated National Maritime Union and his belief in communism took hold.

In 1949, Frank Lumpkin moved to Chicago and married Beatrice. The Wisconsin Steel Mill hired Lumpkin in 1950, and he quickly led an unsuccessful movement to bring a national union to his workplace. Lumpkin continued at the plant until 1980, when it closed down in a corrupt scheme to cheat its workers out of their last paychecks, pensions and benefits. The in-house union refused to fight, and Lumpkin organized the Save Our Jobs Committee. Under his leadership, the group picketed offices in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Fighting hard and long, Save Our Jobs finally succeeded in winning multiple court settlements that totaled $19 million. Although this represented a small monetary victory for the 2,500 workers the committee represented, Lumpkin succeeded in showing that united, people are strong.

Lumpkin has fought throughout his life for such causes as racial justice, living wages and peace. Mayor Harold Washington appointed him to task forces on hunger and dislocated workers. Frank and Beatrice Lumpkin have traveled internationally, visiting Eastern Europe and Russia behind the Iron Curtain as well as Africa and Latin America. Lumpkin remained a member of the Communist Party and the Save Our Jobs Committee, until his death on March 1, 2010.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Frank Lumpkin's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Frank Lumpkin lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Frank Lumpkin describes his parents' occupations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Frank Lumpkin describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Frank Lumpkin talks about his childhood education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Frank Lumpkin describes his family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Frank Lumpkin lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Frank Lumpkin talks about walking to school and his segregated childhood education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Frank Lumpkin describes his relationship with his parents, his father's work as a sharecropper, and his parents' value for education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Frank Lumpkin shares memories about his schooling
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Frank Lumpkin talks about boxing after high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Frank Lumpkin begins to talk about his boxing days
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Frank Lumpkin remembers his boxing days
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Frank Lumpkin describes sopping syrup with biscuits and the foods of his childhool
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Frank Lumpkin talks about the years he spent boxing to make money
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Frank Lumpkin recalls his life in Buffalo, New York as well as his boxing days
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Frank Lumpkin remembers his time in the U.S. Merchant Marine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Frank Lumpkin describes losing several fingers as a teenager
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Frank Lumpkin remembers moving from Buffalo, New York to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Frank Lumpkin recalls working at Wisconsin Steel
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Larry Crowe and Beatrice Lumpkin address Frank Lumpkin's limited memory of events
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Frank Lumpkin talks about Wisconsin Steel mill and how he organized working in the mill
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Frank Lumpkin talks about partnering with Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and labor leader Edward Sadlowski and Wisconsin Steel mill
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Frank Lumpkin talks about the closing of Wisconsin Steel in 1980
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Frank Lumpkin recalls the Trumbull Park Race Riots in 1953
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Frank Lumpkin describes hiring a lawyer and organizing workers at the closing of Wisconsin Steel in 1980
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Frank Lumpkin describes the aftermath of the closing of Wisconsin Steel with details from Beatrice Lumpkin
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Frank Lumpkin talks about labor organizing and his biography, "Always Bring a Crowd!: The Story of Frank Lumpkin"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Frank Lumpkin describes his struggle against Wisconsin Steel to other union fights