Cleo Silvers began her career in community and labor organizing as a VISTA Volunteer and activist in the South Bronx beginning in 1966. Her training as an organizer was based on the Saul Alinsky organizing method of going door-to-door meeting and listening to people in the community.
She was co-founder of the Trinity Avenue Block Association, the Jackson Avenue Block Association and the Kelly Street Block Association, Lincoln Detox, and the Think Lincoln Committee (TLC), a coalition of members of the community, interns and doctors, Young Lords and Black Panthers and hospital workers). Cleo as co-chairperson of HRUM (Health Revolutionary Unity Movement) and the Think Lincoln Committee collectively penned the Patient’s Bill of Rights (watered-down version now seen in every hospital across the country). She participated in the three take-over protests of Lincoln Hospital.
Today she works as a consultant at Cossitt Library in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. She is part of a mentoring program for sixth graders thru high schoolers. She will be helping youngsters design and implement a podcast on the need for protests and how to do it. Black people in Memphis were allowed to use libraries in town only after students from Rhodes and Owens Colleges lead sit-ins at the library in 1961. Cleo is also trying to complete her memoirs within the next few years.