Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Breaking News: Boots Riley Withdraws UC Berkeley Speech

Wed, May 9, 2007 at 5:05 PM

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The Coup's Boots Riley announced today he has withdrawn plans to be the keynote speaker at UC Berkeley's Black Graduation Ceremony this Saturday. Riley made the decision due to the University of California Custodians Union's year-plus-long battle for higher wages. Actor Danny Glover, who was also scheduled to speak at the event, also pulled out of his speaking commitment. Full press release after the jump.

BOOTS RILEY WITHDRAWS PLANS FOR KEYNOTE SPEECH AT SATURDAY'S UC BERKELEY'S BLACK GRADUATION IN SUPPORT OF CUSTODIAN UNION'S FIGHT TO END POVERTY WAGES

THE COUP'S OUTSPOKEN MC JOINS DANNY GLOVER

IN PULLING OUT OF COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY

Boots Riley - The Coup's admired, outspoken MC - has withdrawn plans to serve as the keynote speaker at UC Berkeley's Black Graduation Ceremony this Saturday (May 12th). Actor Danny Glover has also pulled out of this weekend's Commencement in support of the University of California Custodians Union's year and a half long fight for higher wages.

"In solidarity with the Custodian's Union (AFSCME Local 3299), I will not be making the UC Berkeley 2007 Black Graduation commencement speech," says Riley. "Many ideas were talked about regarding how to show solidarity with and not get in the way of this fight. Some said that I should use the opportunity to speak to the audience about the union's demands. However, being that the speaking theme I was given was 'Revolution: Command Change,' I feel the best way to embody this theme is not to give lip service to it, but to show that we must be involved in the struggles that are happening around us every day."

"I wish the graduates who are going to be involved in the Black Graduation well. I hope they understand that no matter what degree you attain through academia, you must be on the right side of the struggle," Riley says of the Custodians' eighteen month effort to obtain wage equity.

"If the Union and UC Berkeley are able to agree on a contract before the commencement ceremony on May 12, I will be more than happy to deliver my speech," Riley adds.

Alongside Riley, U.S. Congresswoman and UC Berkeley alumnus Barbara Lee, plus 2008 Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John Edwards have all lent support to the

AFSCME Local 3299's demand to end to poverty wages. The Union's actions began at UC's Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Irvine campuses, when it noticed that employees with similar duties at surrounding institutions make $4 to $6 more per hour.

--Kathleen Richards

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