Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Black Training Leaders in the Bricklayers Discuss How to Support People of Color in Your Union


Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Kay Whigan (BAC) stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall and carries a deep and booming voice. A welding instructor at the John J. Flynn Bricklayers (BAC)/IMI International Training Center in Maryland, he admits that one of his biggest fears about becoming an instructor was how his students would perceive him. As a Black man who grew up in Alabama, Whigan said he is no stranger to racism. So as an instructor, he worried that his appearance might be intimidating. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the job,” said Whigan, who said he was tapped some years ago for a foreman role. “They told me I’d be good at it because of how I carry myself and how I treat people. When I’m working with someone—whether it’s a student in the shop or a worker on the job—I want them to feel nourished and uplifted. We need to make a point to lend one another a helping hand.” Click here to read more about what Black training leaders are doing to build a more diverse and inclusive union.