Learning With: ‘Overlooked No More: Dorothy Bolden, Who Started a Movement for Domestic Workers’

Learning With: ‘Overlooked No More: Dorothy Bolden, Who Started a Movement for Domestic Workers’

Before reading the article:

For today’s article, you will read an obituary for Dorothy Bolden, a domestic worker who started a movement for the protection of domestic workers in the United States in the 1960s. She died in 2005. This piece is from Overlooked, a history project recalling the lives of those who, for whatever reason, were left out of The Times’s obit pages.

Before you read about Bolden and the movement she started, watch this four-minute Op-Ed video, about what it’s like to be a domestic worker in the United States today.

Then answer the following questions:

• What are some of the duties of a domestic worker?

• Why are domestic and care workers more vulnerable to workplace abuses, like long hours, low wages, sexual harassment and discrimination?

• How are these injustices rooted in the legacy of slavery?

Now, read the article, “Overlooked No More: Dorothy Bolden, Who Started a Movement for Domestic Workers,” and answer the following questions:

1. In 1968, Bolden helped start the National Domestic Workers Union of America. What did this organization do?

2. How did Bolden prepare to lead this struggle?

3. What do domestic workers do? According to Bolden, why are they so important to society?

4. What role did the city buses play in this movement?

5. The author writes that “Bolden was not the first to advocate for domestic workers, but she helped legitimize and organize them on a scale the country had never seen before.” How so? Give three examples from the article.

6. The last few paragraphs of the article describe Bolden’s early life. How might these experiences have motivated her to become an advocate for domestic workers?

7. What is Bolden’s legacy in the movement for domestic workers? Where does the movement stand today?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

How much has changed since Bolden’s time?

Recently, the National Domestic Workers Alliance wrote an open letter dedicated to the women of the Oscar-nominated film “Roma,” which portrays the life of a domestic worker. Read the letter, then tell us:

• Do you agree that domestic work “is valuable, but it is not valued” in our society? What examples from what you have read and watched today, popular culture or your own life support your opinion?

• Do you think there should be a federal law to protect domestic workers? Why or why not?