This year, City & State inaugurated its list of Labor’s 40 Under 40 in New York City. And SLU’s very own Diana Robinson, coordinator of the Union Semester Program, was one of the labor leaders featured on the list! Congratulations, Diana!
From City & State:
Diana Robinson connects her activism and desire to play a role in the labor movement to the history of her family.
“I come from an immigrant family and social justice was always something really important to me,” she says. “I’m happy to be able to repay (my parents) for all they’ve done.” Her father is from Providencia Island, Colombia, while her mother immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic.
Around 2006, she became involved with organizing protests in support of the federal DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, “when there was a lot of talk around comprehensive immigration reform,” Robinson recalls.
At first, she thought she wanted to be an immigration attorney, but had second thoughts about playing a role in a system that is often dehumanizing for those trying to obtain legal immigration status in the U.S.
Instead, Robinson wound up interning at an association of street vendors in East Harlem, Manhattan, which she describes as “mostly Mexican women selling food and CDs.”
“I saw this very strong connection between immigrant rights and labor organizing,” she says.
That led to organizing work at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 and then with the Food Chain Workers Alliance.
In her current position, she mentors students at CUNY. “I saw this program as really important to help people interested in social justice,” she says. In Robinson’s view, the work being done in the labor social justice movement “has to be centered around racial justice.”