Black History Month: Remembering the 1969 hospital workers’ strike

VIDEO: Leaders of 1969 hospital strike leaders remember fight for better treatment, pay

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As America dealt with racial strife and injustice, the city of Charleston was not immune.

In 1969, the hospital workers at the medical college went on strike demanding better treatment and better pay.

Two leaders of that strike were Mary Moultrie, a nurse, and activist Bill Saunders.

The following is a brief account of the protest in their own words:

“We found out that there was a lot of discrimination," Moultrie said."That employees were referred to as ‘monkey grunts’ and a lot of other derogative names. Bill Saunders was the person that I contacted concerning the workers. So he was a motivating factor. He wasn’t in the hospital helping to bring the workers out. But once we got them out, then he was able to work with them and keep them focused.”

“And it ran from April to July," Saunders said."And that’s the height of the tourist season in Charleston. So, they had curfews and the city of Charleston was shut down for 100 days. It changed the whole idea of power. We made sure folks understood that we will have some power. The hospital strike was the beginning of people realizing what kind of power you can exercise if you stand up for what you believe is right. And Ms. Moultrie was the epitome of that whole thing.”

“But we have to stand up for what we believe in," Moultrie said."And once we stand up for what we believe in others will stand up with us.”

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