A Lifetime of Advocacy for Workers

Photo of Ernie C. Dillard, Sr. advocating for the end of racism in the U.S.

Ernie C. Dillard, Sr..

When Linda Oubré became Dean of the College of Business in 2012, she and her husband generously established the Linda and Nathaniel Oubré Leadership Scholarship in the College of Business.  Each year, top scholars in the College receive this award in recognition of their superlative academic performance and service.  This fall, in recognition of her grandfather’s 100th birthday, Dean Oubré created the Ernest C. Dillard Sr. Endowed Scholarship in Labor Studies!

Ernest Dillard is an unsung hero and historic figure in the civil rights and labor movements.  Before the spotlight shined on civil rights leaders, Mr. Dillard fought relentlessly and without recognition to improve the rights of workers with diverse backgrounds.  A trailblazer, he was ahead of his time in fighting for the rights of all people. To this day, he is a powerful voice for the rights of working people everywhere.

“My grandfather and my grandmother, Jessie Mae Dillard, who passed away in October 1990, were my inspiration,” Dean Oubré says.  “Without even an elementary school education, Ernie went on to become an executive in the United Auto Workers and was at the inaugurations of both President Lyndon Johnson and President Jimmy Carter.  For his 100th birthday last January, President Obama sent a special proclamation honoring him, as did the City of Los Angeles and Congresswoman Karen Bass.”

The Dillard scholarship will support students in the Labor Studies Department, one of the few such programs at a university business school.  Oubré says, “Because of our campus history of social justice, we are blessed to have a program in Labor Studies in the College of Business.  The future leaders we train need to have a solid understanding of the history and mission of the labor movement.”

Labor Studies Chair John Logan says, “Many Labor and Employment Studies students are students of color and first-generation graduates. They often work 30-40 hours a week in retail, hospitality and other jobs while enrolled full-time in school. The very generous Ernest C. Dillard Sr. student scholarship will enable students to spend more time on their academic work and more time gaining invaluable work experience through interesting internships, both of which will help them in the job market after graduation.  It will ensure that we have more great student success stories for several years to come!”

Thanks to Dean Linda Oubré for honoring her grandfather and for her tremendous support of our students!