George Leon-Paul Weaver (May 18, 1912 – July 14, 1995) was an American labor leader, active in promoting civil rights both in the US and internationally. After serving as Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, he was in 1968 elected chair of the governing body of the UN's International Labour Organization. He was the first American to be named "Honorary Commander" in the Order of the Defender of the Realm, a Malaysian federal award for meritorious service to the country.
George L. P. Weaver
George Leon-Paul Weaver
May 18, 1912
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
|Died||July 14, 1995 (aged 83)|
Washington, DC, US
|Occupation||Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs for JFK and LBJ|
|Known for||Labor leader and civil rights activist|
Education and early careerEdit
According to the Washington Post, "Mr. Weaver, a Washington resident, was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Dayton, Ohio. He attended what now is Roosevelt University in Chicago and Howard University law school." In 1962, Howard University awarded him an honorary law degree.
In the 1930s, while working as a railway porter, he joined the United Transport Services Employees Union (UTSE). After his union joined the CIO in 1942, he became assistant to the CIO's Secretary-Treasurer James B. Carey. In January 1943, Weaver was named to lead the CIO's new Committee to Abolish Racial Discrimination (CARD), marking the first time the CIO put any Black person into a leadership staff role.
In 1948, Weaver was sent as a union representative to the "National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs", a meeting at the Pentagon organized by US Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, whose goal was "introducing to the services in a systematic and documented way the complaints of responsible black leaders while instructing those leaders in the manpower problems confronting the postwar armed forces." Meeting attendees were unanimous that US military services needed to end segregation. Soon thereafter, President Truman's Executive Order 9981 (July 26, 1948) abolished discrimination "on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin" in the United States Armed Forces, and led to the re-integration of the services during the Korean War (1950–1953).
Beginning in 1950, Weaver worked on international labor issues as a special assistant to W. Stuart Symington, who chaired the National Security Resources Board and later the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Symington credited Weaver with substantial help in stopping speculation that drove up tin prices, calling him in 1969 "one of the ablest public servants we have today."
During the 1950s, Weaver spent time abroad as a representative of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), with the goal of assisting foreign labor leaders. In 1955, ICFTU official Jay Krane described Weaver as "one of the outstanding Negro trade unionists in the United States and ... a leading figure in the fight against discrimination and segregation." In Okinawa, Singapore, and Malaysia, Weaver built relationships with local labor leaders that both sides later maintained with correspondence. He was also the US "workers' delegate" to conferences of the UN's International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1957 and 1958.
Weaver was recruited by his former boss James Carey in 1958 to leave the AFL-CIO for Carey's rival international union International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers. Weaver became Carey's assistant for political education and international programs. Carey recruited Weaver together with many other staff members from other unions, and delegated much authority to them. Weaver's official title was "assistant to the president on Civil Rights and the Committee on Political Education or COPE."
Political and later careerEdit
Weaver and Carey worked to promote labor support for Democratic candidates. In early primaries for the 1960 United States presidential election, Weaver campaigned for his former boss Stuart Symington, but after Symington was eliminated he shifted to support Kennedy.
In January 1961, President Kennedy appointed Weaver Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs. After Kennedy's death, President Johnson continued Weaver in this role throughout his own administration.
From 1961 through 1969 (when Nixon had become US President), Weaver chaired the US Delegation to the annual conference of the UN's International Labour Organization. In 1968, Weaver was unanimously elected to head the ILO's governing board for the year 1968–1969. After the expiration of his term, he remained at the ILO as special assistant to the Director-General, continuing in that post for several years. As part of that role, he served as the ILO's representative stationed in Washington, DC.
During the 1960s, Weaver was honored for his work with labor leaders in Southeast Asia. In 1963, he was the first American to be named "Honorary Commander" in the Order of the Defender of the Realm, a Malaysian federal award for meritorious service to the country. In 1968, the government of South Vietnam awarded him two civilan honors, a Kim Khanh Medal (Second Class) and the Labor Medal (First Class).
- "George L.P. Weaver Collection Papers, 1950-1975" (PDF). Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University. 1975. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
George Leon-Paul Weaver was born in Pittsburgh on May 18, 1912 and spent his entire working life in the labor movement, especially in the areas of civil rights and international affairs. Weaver served as assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer of the CIO from 1942 until its merger with the AFL in 1955; thereafter he became executive secretary of the Civil Rights Committee. In 1958 he left the AFL-CIO to work for International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers president James Carey as assistant for political education and international programs. In the late 1950s he made several trips to the Far East and Southeast Asia to study labor problems for the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Weaver served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs, leaving in 1969 to join the International Labour Organization as special assistant to the Director-General.
- "GEORGE L.P. WEAVER Assistant Secretary of Labor". Washington Post. July 18, 1995. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
In 1963, he was the first American to receive the Malayan honorary award of Panglim Mangku Megara. He had served on the boards of trustees of Washington Technical Institution and the University of the District of Columbia, was chairman of the Finance Committee of the United Negro College Fund and was a life member of the NAACP.
- "International Labor Organization: Weaver joins ILO as Morse aide". International Labor (United States Department of Labor). X (4): 10. 1969. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
A reception at the National Press Club in Washington honored George L-P Weaver on the completion of eight years' service with the Labor Department as Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs and, most recently, as Special Assistant to the Secretary...On September 1, Mr. Weaver began serving in his new Washington-based position as Special Assistant to ILO Director-General David A. Morse.
- Stevenson, Marshall F. (1991). "Challenging the Roadblocks to Equality: Race Relations and Civil Rights in the CIO 1935-1955" (PDF). Ohio State University, Columbus, Center for Labor Research, CLR-WP-006. p. 16. Retrieved December 21, 2021.
Between his days as a law student and his involvement with the UTSE in Chicago, Weaver gained a sense of working-class consciousness while employed by the WPA in Harlem in the mid-1930s. His hiring marked the first appointment of a black to a position of high responsibility on the National CIO staff.
- Quigel, James P. (1965). "An Inventory of the Records of the President's Office of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, ca. 1938-1965". Rutgers Library Archives. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
[James B. Carey]...delegated much authority to his executive assistants and the Secretary-Treasury and bolstered the IUE international office by recruiting talented staff from the CIO's national office, other unions, and the government sector. Appointees such as .. George L-P. Weaver (assistant to the president on Civil Rights and the Committee on Political Education or COPE) exemplified the large pool of talented individuals drawn to the IUE.
- MacGregor, Morris J, Jr. (1981). "Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940–1965" (PDF). Defense Studies. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
Those invited were ...Willard Townsend of the United Transport Service Employees...Unable to attend, [Walter] White sent his assistant Roy Wilkins, Townsend sent George L.P. Weaver (footnote, page 302)
- Evans, Farrell (November 5, 2020). "Why Harry Truman Ended Segregation in the US Military in 1948". History Channel. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
In 1998, on the 50th anniversary of Executive Order 9981, General Colin Powell, who later became America’s first Black secretary of state, spoke about the impact of Truman’s decision on his life: 'The military was the only institution in all of America—because of Harry Truman—where a young Black kid, now 21 years old, could dream the dream he dared not think about at age 11. It was the one place where the only thing that counted was courage, where the color of your guts and the color of your blood was more important than the color of your skin.'
- "Negroes who got RFC loans". Jet. December 27, 1951. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
RFC has in its Washington office a Negro special assistant to Administrator W. Stuart Symington. He is George L. P. Weaver, former secretary of the CIO's Anti-Discrimination Committee, who is currently on an extended mission for Symington in the Far East studying problems of tin-producing countries.
- Foreign Assistance Act, 1969: Hearings, Ninety-first Congress, First Session, on S. 2347. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1969.
[Symington]: 'George L-P Weaver...is one of the ablest public servants we have today...There is a report in the files of the Preparedness Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee which says that the activities of the Truman administration in the early 1950's saved the Government some half billion dollars in stockpiling, mostly tin, and I know the chief reason for that accomplishment was your own activities to that end.'
- "International Confederation of Free Trade Unions". Britannica. Britannica. 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
The ICFTU was formed in 1949 by Western trade union federations that had withdrawn from the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) after bitter disagreements with the communist-led unions in the WFTU. The chief founders of the new organization were the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) of the United States and the Trades Union Congress of Great Britain. The stated purpose of the new federation was to ensure 'collaboration between the free and democratic trade union movements throughout the world.'
- Leow, Rachel (2019). "Asian Lessons in the Cold War Classroom: Trade Union Networks and the Multidirectional Pedagogies of the Cold War in Asia". Journal of Social History. 53 (2): 429–453. doi:10.1093/jsh/shz102. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
George Leon-Paul Weaver was an AFL-CIO trade unionist, a long-time railway and airlines unionist, a civil rights activist, and one of a number of black labor officials who were being sent to Asia and Africa on behalf of the US government...After the Second World War, Weaver, who was at that point serving as special assistant to democratic Senator Stuart Symington, had built up a solid and admirable reputation as, in Jay Krane’s words, 'one of the outstanding Negro trade unionists in the United States and . . . a leading figure in the fight against discrimination and segregation.'
- "Weaver elected governing body chairman". International Labor (United States Department of Labor). IX (4): 12. 1968. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
George L-P Weaver, Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs, was unanimously elected Chairman of the ILO Governing Body at its June meeting in Geneva...The new chairman has served on the governing body since his appointment as Assistant Secretary in 1961..Earlier he had seen service as a workers' delegate from the United States at the 1957 and 1958 ILO conferences.
- Quigel, James P. (1965). "GENERAL REFERENCE FILES OF GEORGE L-P. WEAVER, ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT 1958-1960". Rutgers Library Archives. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
Weaver's correspondence and memoranda document his activities during the 1958 off-year elections and the 1960 Democratic Party primaries and national election. Correspondents include IUE department heads and staff members, AFL-CIO COPE Director James McDevitt, and prominent political figures--John F. Kennedy, Hubert H. Humphrey, Stuart Symington, Paul Douglas, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Particularly insightful is Carey's and Weaver's early endorsement of Senator Stuart Symington (D-Missouri) for the Democratic Party presidential nomination and their subsequent shift to John F. Kennedy following Symington's poor showing in the early primaries.
- "Confidential". Jet. July 23, 1959. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
Here's the inside mid-year 'Presidential Derby' round-up...Belford and Marjorie Lawson are regarded as key campaigners [for JFK]...Sen. Stuart Symington has labor's George L. P. Weaver in his corner, but hasn't made a public move.
- Gates, Henry Louis (November 18, 2013). "How Black Was JFK's Camelot?". The Root. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
unlike previous presidents, the positions Kennedy offered weren’t merely “advisory,” but were, as the headline ran, for “Negro Decision-Makers.” Their names, though largely forgotten to us now, were illustrious and continued being added to the rolls throughout JFK’s 1,000 days...George L.P. Weaver, assistant secretary of labor for International Affairs
- Booker, Simeon (1961). "Tough Man for a tough job: George L. P. Weaver is New Frontier's labor trouble-shooter at home and abroad". Ebony. pp. 55–64. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
The New Frontier's answer to tough international problems in the fields of labor, race relations, economic planning, and financing is 48-year-old, cigar smoking George Leon Paul Weaver, U. S. assistant secretary of labor in charge of international affairs.
- The United States & the International Labor Organization. United States. Department of Labor. 1969. p. 29.
Mr. George L-P Weaver was Chairman of the U. S. Delegation to the International Labor Conference from 1961 to 1969. He was Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs, the U. S. Representative on the Governing Body and Chairman of the Governing Body (1968–1969) of the International Labor Office.
- "Weaver receives honors from South Vietnam, Malaysia". International Labor (United States Department of Labor). IX (5): 5. 1968. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
From the Government of South Vietnam, Mr. Weaver was awarded the Kim Khanh Medal Second Class and the Labor Medal First Class. ... From the Government of Malaysia, Mr. Weaver receive the honorary award of Tan Sri — an elevation of an award previously bestowed on him in 1963. Mr. Weaver, who is the first American on whom this high Malaysian honor has been conferred, received the award from the Malaysian Head of State in Ceremonies in Kuala Lumpur.