Dennis Serrette ¡Presente!

Chest-up photo of Dennis Serrette, a Black man, leaning back in a wooden rocking chair, resting his face gently on one hand, smiling warmly, bathed in warm evening light, with some greenery behind him.

Dennis Serrette was a passionate advocate for civil rights, labor rights, and social justice; he was a founding member of the CWA Black Caucus and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, among many other accomplishments. He modeled how to live life with joy and warmth, cherishing his family while projecting an unyielding vision of how to make the world a better place.

Dennis L. Serrette, a passionate advocate for civil rights, labor rights, and social justice, passed on March 7 at the age of 83. Dennis leaves behind a legacy of tireless activism, unwavering dedication, and boundless compassion that touched countless lives.

We lost a treasure of a human being and a fierce fighter for social justice.

Born in Harlem, Dennis was moved to action as a teenager in part by the outrage he witnessed in Harlem at the murder of Emmett Till, and later by the inspiration of Malcolm X’s street corner remarks and Dennis’s visits to the legendary Mosque Temple #7.

I loved to hear him talk about his early New York days in the Communications Workers, organizing the “Vanguard Society” to fight for equal job placements for Black and Latino workers; founding the CWA Black Caucus; his role as a founding member and first national organizer for the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; leading a wildcat CWA strike as part of the Telephone Revolutionary Union Movement; leading the New York City coalition to save Sydenham Hospital; fighting to save the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and more.

Dennis’s life was aimed at dismantling systemic oppression of every kind. He was fearless.

Most importantly, he modeled how to live life with joy and warmth, cherishing his family while projecting an unyielding vision of how to make the world a better place. He even ran for President of the U.S. in 1984, setting an example of “no limits in the fight for justice.”

Dennis was an internationalist and a leader in the anti-apartheid struggles, as well as a supporter of U.S. Labor Against the War and other international solidarity movements. He was once passed over for a promotion within CWA because he refused to stop talking about his support for the rights of Palestinians.

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A visionary leader and educator, Dennis dedicated himself to empowering others, whether through teaching at institutions like New York University or by creating cutting-edge programs for the CWA Minority Leadership Institute. His commitment to nurturing future generations of leaders was unparalleled.

His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all who were fortunate enough to know him. His indomitable spirit, unwavering courage, and relentless pursuit of justice will continue to inspire generations to come.

Dennis is survived by his wife and soulmate, Cathy Hollenberg Serrette, and an extended network of family members they nurtured, leaving behind a new generation of fighters for social justice.

Like so many friends and comrades, I remain touched and inspired by his extraordinary life.

Dennis Serrette may have left this world, but his legacy of love, compassion, and activism will endure forever. Rest in power, comrade.

Information about his memorial is here.