U.S. Congressman Bobby L. Rush issues statement on the passing of Rev. Dr. Addie Wyatt, Labor and Civil Rights Leader

Says “Rev. Wyatt, along with her late husband, the Rev. Claude Wyatt, played an important role in my development”


CHICAGO, IL — Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) released the following statement honoring Rev. Addie Wyatt:

I am saddened to learn of the passing of a friend and counselor, the Rev. Addie Wyatt. She was one of the most pivotal labor, civil rights and religious leaders of the latter half of the 20th century. Rev. Wyatt was a humanitarian and a powerful, yet passionate voice for the rights of women, African-Americans and all others she believed were denied the opportunity to live the American dream.

Rev. Wyatt, along with her late husband, the Rev. Claude Wyatt, played an important role in my development. I vividly recall spending so many sessions at their home, where they poured their wisdom and counsel into me. Her courage, steadfastness and intellect is the foundation on which many of us still stand.

Rev. Wyatt, one of our nation’s foremost labor leaders, began her labor involvement in the early 1950s. She was elected vice president of her local, UPWA Local 56, in 1953. She later became an international representative, before being tapped in 1976 as the first female international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers in 1976.

Eleanor Roosevelt appointed her to serve on the Labor Legislation Committee of President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women, which presented its report in 1963. In 1974, she helped found the Coalition of Labor Union Women and delivered the keynote address at the founding meeting to 3,200 participants. Wyatt was a founding member of the National Organization for Women and a leader in the struggle for an Equal Rights Amendment.

She was named one of Time’s Women of the Year in 1976 and received a similar honor from The Ladies Home Journal in 1977. Ebony named her one of the 100 most influential black Americans from 1980 to 1984. Rev. Wyatt was co-founder, with her late husband, of the Vernon Park Church of God on the South Side. They also founded the Wyatt Choral Ensemble in 1944.She was ordained a minister in 1955 and had a strong working relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She helped found Operation Breadbasket and served on the board of Operation PUSH.

Rev. Wyatt’s life was a beacon of light for all to observe. On behalf of my wife Carolyn and all the citizens of the First Congressional District of Illinois, I offer our prayers, support and love to her son, Claude III, sister Maude McKay, her grandchildren, friends and Vernon Park Church of God family. May her soul rest in peace and thank God He has welcomed her home.