Organized Labor and the Black Worker
A classic, radical history of Black workers’ contribution to the American labor movement.
By Philip S. Foner
Foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley
In this classic account, historian Philip Foner traces the radical history of Black workers’ contribution to the American labor movement.
“Organized Labor and the Black Worker … documents a very long history of trade union and white working-class intransigence to Black working-class advancement alongside episodes of interracial class unity and the elusive promise of a radical future…. His book is filled with anecdotes of working-class racism undermining genuine workers’ power in favor of the paltry protections of white privilege—from the erection of occupational color bars by unions to the outbreaks of wildcat strikes against the hiring of black workers. But it is also peppered with episodes of anti-racism and interracial unity, from the Knights of Labor and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)…. Foner reminds us that African Americans provided leadership to white workers—or at least they tried. From the Colored National Labor Union to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, from the League of Revolutionary Black Workers to the Coalition of Black Trade Unions, Black labor militants appealed to whites and other workers of color for solidarity. Indeed, solidarity is the book’s central message; when white workers attempt to go it alone or build exclusionary racist unions, they don’t win…. A stunning achievement; it still stands as the most comprehensive treatment to date of African American workers and the labor movement.”—Robin D. G. Kelley, from the Foreword, author of Hammer and Hoe
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