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Civil Rights Activist Dorothy Bolden worked tirelessly throughout her career to provide equal pay and better working protections for Black domestic employees. Bolden knew the struggle far too well as she had been working alongside her mother as a laundry assistant since the age of 9.

After years of grueling as a domestic worker with little pay, terrible working conditions, and no respect, the fiery activist launched The National Domestic Workers Union of America in 1968. The labor union helped to advocate fair pay and better working conditions for nearly 10,000 of its Black female members for almost three decades, the New York Times noted.

The union also started job placement and training programs for women to improve their skillset for higher-salaried positions and aimed to protect workers’ rights through national and local legislation.

“The National Domestic Workers Union was the first time there was ever a voice that was powerful in terms of raising standards for the workforce and improving wages,” Bolden said in the book “Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement” by Premilla Nadasen.

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During the Civil Rights Movement, Black women often worked in low-paying positions as nannies, housekeepers, or caregivers and were unknowledgeable on how to negotiate for better working conditions–something that Bolden fought to change.

“You have to teach each maid how to negotiate and this is the most important thing — communication. I would tell them it was up to them to communicate,” she added.

Bolden, who is often regarded as an unsung hero in the trade union moment, will now finally be honored with a series of murals across four buildings located in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood. Each mural will show a different part of Bolden’s brave and courageous story. The project is a part of the “Dear Domestic Workers, Thank You!” campaign launched by the “We Dream in Black” organization, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Artists Ayanna Smith, Fabian Williams, Charity Hamidullah, and Vanna Farley have all contributed beautiful work towards the commemorative pieces.

People are encouraged to tour the site independently where at each mural, tour-goers can find QR codes that when scanned using a smartphone will share more information behind the mural’s curation and the significance of its location. Williams’ mural, in particular, is located close to Atlanta’s Transit Authority buses where Bolden would often hold meetings with other domestic workers about their rights while listening to their stories of discrimination.

You can find out more information on how to view the murals and their various locations below.

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