Book presentation and discussion: Anti-racism and trade unions in the USA – past and present

The US-American historian Peter Cole presents the book “Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly” in Göttingen and talks about current developments inside the labor movement in the USA.

Where? Obere-Masch-Str. 10, 37073 Göttingen
When? Thursday 07.07. at 7 pm

In the early twentieth century, when many US unions excluded Black and Asian workers, the grassroots union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) warmly welcomed people of color, in keeping with their emphasis on class solidarity and their motto: “An Injury to One Is an Injury to All!”

A brilliant union organizer and a humorous orator, Benjamin Fletcher (1890–1949) was a tremendously important member of the IWW. Fletcher helped found and lead Local 8 of the IWW’s Marine Transport Workers Union, unquestionably the most powerful anti-racist union of its era, taking a principled stand against all forms of xenophobia and exclusion.

However, the struggle against racism continues to this day, as demonstrated most recently by the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests originating in the United States. At the same time, a militant trade union movement has developed in the U.S., and Black workers are playing leading roles in current labor struggles such as those of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU). The event will also focus on these current developments.

Following the lecture, we will discuss what can be learned from the historical and current experiences from the USA for anti-racist struggles and labor struggles in other countries.

The lecture will be held in English, translation can be organized spontaneously on site if needed. The event is hosted by the FAU Göttingen and the editorial staff of the journal Sozial.Geschichte Online.

Peter Cole is a professor of history at Western Illinois University in Macomb. He did a lot of research on unionism and is active member of the union American Federation of Teachers.

For Corona prevention please come tested. We also have some rapid tests on site if necessary.

Sozial.Geschichte Online:

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