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First Black Trade Unionist Honored with State of Israel Award

A black trade union leader, Benjamin T. Irvin, has become the first Negro to receive a special State of Israel award. City Councilman William J. Cottrell, dinner chairman at the State of Israel Tribute dinner-dance where the award was made, said Mr. Irvin was honored because “he has devoted his energies and his talents for the advancement of his fellow-men.” Mr. Irvin, business manager of Laborer’s Local 57, the largest local in the AFL-CIO to be headed by a black unionist, said he was in sympathy with the Jewish people and their efforts to build a homeland in Israel and observed that “all minority groups must stand by each other.” After the dinner-dance a spokesman for the Israeli Consulate here said “Jews might be encouraged to learn that there are Negro leaders who support Israel and purchase Israel Bonds” especially in light of the hostility toward Israel expressed by the Black Panthers.

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