Today at 3:00 p.m. at the MUSC Basic Science Building, a marker honoring the efforts of Mary Moultrie and the 1969 Hospital Workers’ Strike will be unveiled. The Preservation Society of Charleston has unveiled several markers this year commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement; this marker will be the last one in the current project.
The unveiling is free and open to the public and will feature special guest, Mary Moultrie. Mary Moultrie, a nurse’s aide at MUSC in 1968, organized the strike to gain equal pay and fairer working conditions for black nurses. Due to institutionalized prejudice, black nurses were forced to work in unfair environments: they faced daily harassment, they were refused job titles that would grant them higher (and fairer) pay, and they were not allowed to unionize. Mary Moultrie organized 400 hospital employees–mostly black women working below minimum wage–to strike on June 18th, 1969. The strike lasted for 113 days and gained the attention of national leaders such as Coretta Scott King, Jesse Jackson, and Ralph Abernathy.
The protest was another success for non-violent activism. MUSC re-hired all the strikers and instituted official grievance procedures for workers.
In 2008, Stephen Colbert and Civil Rights activist, Andrew Young, discussed the 1969 Hospital Workers’ Strike. Colbert’s father, James Colbert, was Vice President of Academic Affairs at MUSC at the time. Video can be found via the link.