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Ernest C. and Jessie M. Dillard Papers

 Collection
Identifier: LP000500
Part I: The papers of Ernest and Jessie Dillard consist of materials which reflect the broad range of their professional and political activities. They include lecture notes and materials from the Detroit NAACP and the Socialist Workers Party in the 1940s and 1950s; grievance books and other materials from UAW Local 15 (1950s); speeches presented by Mr. Dillard while employed on staff for UAW CAP and at numerous other venues; materials from the production of the Trade Union Leadership Council newspaper, The Vanguard; and related to Mr. Dillard’s writings, materials documenting Mrs. Dillard’s involvement in Detroit politics and civic affairs, and family correspondence.

Important subjects in the collection: Afro-American automobile industry workers Afro-American civic leaders--Michigan--Detroit Afro-American civil rights workers--Michigan Automobile industry workers--Political activity--Michigan Civil rights--United States Community organization--Michigan--Detroit Democratic Party--Michigan Discrimination in employment--United States General Motors Fleetwood Fisher Body plant--Michigan--Detroit Grievance arbitration--Michigan--Detroit Michigan--Politics and government Negro American Labor Council Neighborhood government--Michigan--Detroit Political activists--Michigan Socialist Workers Party Trade Union Leadership Council UAW--Community Action Program UAW Local 15

Important correspondents in the collection: Horace Sheffield
Part II: The papers in Part 2 of the Ernest C. and Jessie M. Dillard Collection consist of correspondence, reports, clippings, speeches, publications and other material related to their labor, political and publishing activities.

Dates

  • 1936 - 1999

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

9 Linear Feet (9 SB)

Abstract

An active member of United Auto Workers Local 15, Ernest Dillard was the first African American elected to a succession of UAW leadership posts. Jessie Dillard was one of Detroit’s leading block club organizers and civil rights activists. Both Mr. and Ms. Dillard played prominent roles in the Detroit NAACP and held leadership positions in the Michigan Democratic Party.

Part I of the papers of Ernest and Jessie Dillard reflect the broad range of their professional and political activities in the labor and civil rights movements.

The papers in Part II consist of correspondence,reports, clippings, speeches, publications and other material related to their labor, political and publishing activities.

History

Ernest and Jessie Dillard moved to Detroit from Montgomery, Alabama in 1937. In 1942, Mr. Dillard began working at the Fleetwood Fisher Body plant, where he became an active member of UAW Local 15 and the first African American elected to a succession of leadership posts. Between 1942 and 1964, when he joined the staff of the International UAW, he served as shop steward, shop committeeman, executive board member, Fair Employment Practices Committee chairman, editor of the Fleetwood Organizer, vice-president, shop chairman, and recording secretary of the local. While on the staff of the International, he served in the umpire section of the General Motors Department (1964-1967), as Citizenship Department coordinator (1968-1969), Education Department assistant director (1970-72), Community Action Program (CAP) coordinator (1973-1976), and CAP assistant director (1976-1979). Mr. Dillard retired in 1980 at the age of 65.

In 1956, the Committee to Communicate Truth to Mississippi, which Mr. Dillard served as executive secretary, published his pamphlet, “An Open Letter of Truth to the White People of Mississippi.” Mr. Dillard was also active in the Trade Union Leadership Council in the early 1960s, and served as president of the Michigan chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute in the early 1980s.

Mr. Dillard and his wife, Jessie, one of Detroit’s leading block club organizers and political activists, played prominent roles in the Detroit NAACP and a variety of civil rights struggles, including a number of successful sit-ins to integrate downtown Detroit restaurants in the late 1940s and ‘50s. Mrs. Dillard was appointed to the Detroit Commission on Community Relations in 1969 and later served as assistant to Detroit City Council President Erma Henderson. Both held leadership positions in the Michigan Democratic Party spanning several decades. Alumni of the Wayne State University Labor School, they remained active in adult education activities. Jessie Dillard died in 1990.

Arrangement

Part I: Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Part II: Folders are arranged in original order.

Transfers

A number of photographs and a few badges and buttons have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Department, and a small amount of material, including issues of Fleetwood Organizer and The Vanguard , has been transferred to the Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Title
Guide to the Ernest C. and Jessie M. Dillard Papers
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA