During this year’s Black History Month, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters is highlighting some of the organizations’
notable African American employees who consistently provide leadership, elevate the trade and continue to strengthen workers’ rights.
Jomo Akono, a Council Representative for the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters’ Local 276 in Buffalo N.Y., started his career in carpentry as an Apprentice in 2005, the same year he went to Ethiopia to attend the Africa Unite festival in honor of Bob Marley. Born and raised in upstate New York, Jomo has always felt the urge to help others, consistently drawing on parallels between his love for music and carpentry in an effort to better the community he and his family live and work in.
A second-generation carpenter, Jomo is heavily involved in helping those around him and improving the lives of his neighbors and fellow carpenters. He uses his role as a Council Representative to help educate current and future generations of tradespeople while also working as a radio DJ for WUFO to spread concepts of culture, art, music and other social issues globally and throughout the Buffalo area.
“Black History Month gives African Americans the chance to take a step back and analyze one’s own individual story and history,” said Akono. “It helps you observe where you are in today’s society and really see how much progress and milestones that have been achieved up until this point.”
Jomo Akono is a natural teacher of crafts, values and music and is a prominent figure in the area for promoting craftsmanship. He continues to ensure that future generations of carpenters in the community are given the chance to receive training/mentorship to open the door for livable wages and a financially secure future. In addition to working for the NRCC and hosting a radio show, he also teaches music on the side.
“Working as a carpenter, musician and Council Representative, I’ve been given the unique opportunity to discover first-hand how after you start with the basics, they all offer the same thing; an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally and the ability to create something for others to find comfort in,” said Akono. “Above all else, I value the union because you never stop learning and it gives me the means to to help my community. When you put your best foot forward in the union, they recognize you for your efforts and make you feel appreciated for your work.”
The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (NRCC) has a strong commitment to continuing to cultivate its ever-expanding and diverse workforce. Over the course of his career, Jomo has touched the lives of so many in his community and beyond. Organizational representatives like Jomo Akono exemplify what it means to be a union carpenter.