​AFSCME’s Geraldine Boykin passes, local labor pioneer

Geraldine P. Boykin, considered “one of the most memorable characters and astute political strategists to ever work in the labor movement” passed away January 13th at age 87. Boykin spent more than two decades working for AFSCME, and was a trailblazer as one of the first Black women to lead a labor union in D.C. when she was AFSCME District Council 20’s executive director in the 1980s. Often the only woman in the room when labor leaders met to discuss bargaining strategies and political endorsements, she negotiated contracts across the table from legendary DC Mayor Marion Barry and won respect in the DC labor community for being an unapologetic advocate for gender equality in pay and promotions. “Her humor and insight would cut through tense moments and foster unity,” said Dwight Kirk, long-time media consultant to AFSCME District Council 20 and president of d'Flat communications.

Boykin spearheaded the petition drive for Home Rule and was DC Congressman Walter E. Fauntroy’s first District Director. In the 80's she joined AFSCME’s Political Action Department traveling the country to manage GOTV campaigns mobilizing African American voters, training over 40,000 members and mentoring a generation of young political operatives.

She was a founding member and the first president of the D.C. Chapter of the Coalition Of Black Trade Unionists, served on the executive board of the National Congress of
Black Women and was founding president of the DC chapter. She wrote several books including -- "Explosive Love ," a compilation of love poems, and "Why I Couldn't March," a 1983 memoir to commemorate the March on Washington, a novel, “Gotta Tell Papa," and an unpublished autobiography.