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Meet Inez Bishop: The Manchester Activist Who Fought for Workplace Equality and Civil Rights

Published Wednesday May 3, 2023

Author JerriAnne Boggis, The Black Heritage Trail NH

Meet Inez Bishop: The Manchester Activist Who Fought for Workplace Equality and Civil Rights

Inez Glenn Bishop was born in Florida in 1927. But it wasn’t until she moved North that she realized her skin color made her feel like a second-class citizen.

She and her husband, Frank Bishop, moved to Manchester, NH, in 1947, following her mother, Bertha Evans, and her brother-in-law. The Bishops found not many people were willing to rent to Blacks. And then there was work.

Inez’ first job was on an assembly line in an electrical components company. Though she was the most productive worker on her shift, she was passed over for the job of floor supervisor. But when productivity suffered, Inez was asked to take over the job. She worked the second shift, where she and her team were able to meet and surpass all their quotas. “I knew which girls worked well together so I paired people up. I also knew which girls worked quickly, so I gave them less complicated work on the line to increase our productivity,” said Inez.

All women earned less than men, and Black women earned less than White women. Inez was nominated to take her colleagues’ concerns to the company bosses. “We are a simple group of women trying to raise our families and make an honest living. You bring all these lawyers to speak to us with all your fancy words. Where is your integrity? We want equal pay for equal work,” she recalls telling those bosses. The outcome of that meeting sparked real change in the company. Inez went on to be the union president.

Inez Bishop’s determination to speak up for what was right and fair for herself and her coworkers is what set her apart. She is still remembered among her former fellow workers as the one who helped women at that company get their first significant pay raise.

Apart from her workplace activism, Inez also was busy in her community and church. She was at the meetings that led to the birth of the Manchester chapter of the NAACP and later served as president. In the early 1970s, she helped found the Greater Manchester Black Scholarship Fund.

Jerrianne Boggis is an author and executive director of The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. 

This article is part of an ongoing series aimed at highlighting and honoring the stories of notable Black historical figures and families who helped shape New Hampshire and Maine. These stories were originally collected by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire for a project with the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire. Stories are being shared with the partners in The Granite State News Collaborative."

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