The Charleston Hospital Workers Movement, 1968-1969

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Otis Robinson

Local Activist

Charleston activist and Muslim leader Otis J. Robinson popularized using the phrase, “I am somebody!” as a rallying cry for striking workers during the 1969 hospital protests. Robinson and local activist William Saunders also formed an organization dedicated to deterring violence against the black community through armed self-defense. They sought to safeguard strikers and their families by monitoring white supremacist groups.

Robinson was later active in South Carolina’s Republican Party politics. He ran for the State House of Representatives in 1974, and accused federal anti-poverty programs of being corrupt. He collaborated with Saunders on plans to establish an independent black supermarket, and worked as a tax preparer.

Featured Oral History Selection

Selection from interview with Mary Moultrie, William Saunders, and Rosetta Simmons by Kerry Taylor, March 2009, courtesy of The Citadel Oral History ProgramLowcountry Digital Library. Clip from original interview minutes 13:32-14:07.

Bill Saunders reflects on Otis Robinson's leadership and the orgins of the slogan, “I am somebody!”