During this year’s Black History Month, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters is highlighting notable African American carpenters who stand out among their fellow Union Brothers and Sisters through volunteering and making a difference within their local communities. Cynthia is one of the five African American carpenters from NRCC who will receive the NRCC “Spirit of Service” award for her community service and volunteer efforts. The award will be presented to her at a ceremony on February 24th at the Trenton Masonic Temple.
When she was eight years old, Cynthia Mills, a 35-year member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, sat on her father’s shoulders and watched Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the Washington Mall. Forty years later, her job as a Union carpenter led her back to the same place on the Washington Mall where she helped to build the platform for President Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration.
Prior to becoming a Union Carpenter, Mills worked as a key punch operator in the 1980s. During her time in that role, Mills realized that she wanted to do something different with her career.
“I knew that I wanted to work with my hands,” said Mills. “In junior high school, I built items in woodshop class and that started my interest in working in this field.”
Aside from having a number of years’ experience on job sites, Mills is also involved in a number of leadership activities within her Union including attending the Women in Leadership Development (WILD) Conference, marching in the Civil Rights Rally in Baltimore and her most notable position as the Sisters in the Brotherhood (SIB) Steering Committee Chair for Local 177. All while completing these activities, Mills also mentors recent graduates of the NRCC SIB Pre-Apprenticeship Program.
Throughout all of Mills’ activities and hands-on approach to participating in her Union, Mills knows that the forefront of her success stems back to Black History Month.
“Black History Month recognizes what my ancestors had to endure for both my dignity and pride,” said Mills. “They paved the way for me and I now carry that torch for future generations to come.”