The world changed on May 26, 1926, for on that day Miles Davis entered the world in Alton. The Davises initially lived at 1112 Milnor Street. When Miles was two, they moved to East St. Louis, at the time a center of racial unrest and only nine years removed from the infamous 1917 race riots.
Miles came from an accomplished professional family. Though musicians featured prominently in his ancestry, his immediate family had eschewed the calling as disreputable. His father was a dentist with a thriving practice that allowed him to buy a house—pointedly, in a white neighborhood—and a 200-acre ranch where Miles enjoyed horseback riding, hunting, and fishing.
As the Scottish trumpet player Ian Carr wrote in his biography of the musician:
He inherited his mother’s good looks—the large, luminous eyes, the straight, finely chiseled nose, and the delicate jawline—and he also felt that his artistic talent, sense of style, and love of clothes came from her.
His early relationship with her was deeply affected by the racial and social situation. As the wife of a dental surgeon, Miles’s mother was aware that her family had an important place in local society, and she strove to uphold that position. After Emancipation, it was the professional men and ministers of the church who were the heads of the new black society, and they were at pains to get rid of any customs, habits, or mannerisms that were too “negroid” or which harked back to slavery. It often happened that leading black citizens became the most fanatical imitators of white society.
That attitude found expression when Miles began to express interest in music. His mother wanted him to take up the violin, an instrument she herself played, and one prominent in the genteel, tasteful music played in the Davis household. Yet, unknown to Miles or almost anyone else, his mother also played blues piano, and played it well. Davis would not learn of it until the 1950s. She allowed Miles and his siblings to visit his grandparents in Arkansas, where Miles became steeped in guitar-centric blues, gospel, and work songs.
In time Miles received a trumpet against his mother’s wishes, and by age sixteen started earning his own money in bands. His parents, intent on him pursuing a professional career, insisted on college. Thus began Davis’s time at Juilliard, his introduction to the New York City jazz scene, and his journey toward a new sound that helped redefine both jazz and American music.
The Stone Age had its cavepeople and thyroidal mammals, the Bronze Age its Hoplites and long poems, the Iron Age its hillforts and bog mummies. The Steel Age seldom gets its due. Oh, it overlaps with the Iron Age, there may not even be a Steel Age, really. Nonetheless, the Alloy That Could gave us the weapons and tools that boosted humanity toward our current whiz-bang Silicon Age and its parallel Celebrity Age and Expensive Coffee Age.
We don’t play favorites at UIP when it comes to ages or raw materials. But we have done our best to address the historical dis paid to steel. From earthmovers to musical instruments, we respect the frequently stainless alloy by advancing study and telling untold stories.
Yellow Steel: The Story of the Earthmoving Equipment Industry, by William R. Haycraft In Yellow Steel, the first overarching history of the earthmoving equipment industry, William Haycraft examines the tremendous increase in the scope of mining and construction projects, from the Suez Canal through the interstate highway system, made possible by innovations in earthmoving machinery.
Led by Cyrus McCormick’s invention in 1831 of a practical mechanical reaper, many of the builders of today’s massive earthmoving machines began as makers of reapers, plows, threshers, and combines. Haycraft traces the efforts of manufacturers such as Caterpillar, Allis-Chalmers, International Harvester, J. I. Case, Deere, and Massey-Ferguson to diversify from farm equipment to specialized earthmoving equipment and the important contributions of LeTourneau, Euclid, and others in meeting the needs of the construction and mining industries. He shows how postwar economic and political events, especially the creation of the interstate highway system, spurred the development of more powerful and more agile machines. He also relates the precipitous fall of several major American earthmoving machine companies and the rise of Japanese competitors in the early 1980s.
Extensively illustrated and packed with detailed information on both manufacturers and machines, Yellow Steel knits together the diverse stories of the many companies that created the earthmoving equipment industry—how they began, expanded, retooled, merged, succeeded, and sometimes failed. Their history, a step-by-step linking of need and invention, provides the foundation for virtually all modern transportation, construction, commerce, and industry.
Making Steel: Sparrows Point and the Rise and Ruin of American Industrial Might, by Mark Reutter Making Steel chronicles the rise and fall of American steel by focusing on the fateful decisions made at the world’s once largest steel mill at Sparrows Point, Maryland. Mark Reutter examines the business, production, and daily lives of workers as corporate leaders became more interested in their own security and enrichment than in employees, community, or innovative technology.
This edition features 26 pages of photos, an author’s preface, and a new chapter on the devastating effects of Bethlehem Steel’s bankruptcy titled “The Discarded American Worker.”
Sacred Steel: Inside an African American Steel Guitar Tradition, by Robert L. Stone
The first in-depth look at a unique sacred music tradition, Sacred Steel follows the sound of steel guitar into the music-driven Pentecostal worship of two related churches: the House of God and the Church of the Living God. A rare outsider who has gained the trust of members and musicians inside the church, Robert L. Stone uses nearly two decades of research, interviews, and fieldwork to tell the story of a vibrant musical tradition that straddles sacred and secular contexts.
Most often identified with country and western bands, steel guitar is almost unheard of in African American churches–except for the House of God and the Church of the Living God, where it has been part of worship since the 1930s. Sacred Steel traces the tradition through four generations of musicians and in some two hundred churches extending across the country from Florida to California, Michigan to Alabama. Presenting detailed portraits of musical pioneers such as brothers Troman and Willie Eason and contemporary masters such as Chuck Campbell, Glenn Lee, and Robert Randolph, Stone expertly outlines the fundamental tensions between sacred steel musicians and church hierarchy.
In this thorough analysis of the tradition, Stone explores the function of the music in church meetings and its effect on the congregations. He also examines recent developments such as the growing number of female performers, the commercial appeal of the music, and younger musicians’ controversial move of the music from the church to secular contexts.
Duquesne and the Rise of Steel Unionism, by James D. Rose Not all workers’ needs were served by the union. Focusing on the steel works at Duquesne, Pennsylvania, a linchpin of the old Carnegie Steel Company empire and then of U.S. Steel, James D. Rose demonstrates the pivotal role played by a nonunion form of employee representation usually dismissed as a flimsy front for management interests.
The early New Deal set in motion two versions of workplace representation that battled for supremacy: company-sponsored employee representation plans (ERPs) and independent trade unionism. At Duquesne, the cause of the unskilled, hourly workers, mostly eastern and southern Europeans as well as blacks, was taken up by the Fort Dukane Lodge of the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers. For skilled tonnage workers and skilled tradesmen, mainly U.S.-born and of northern and western European extraction, ERPs offered a better solution. Initially little more than a crude antiunion device, ERPs matured from tools of the company into semi-independent, worker-led organizations.
Isolated from the union movement through the mid-1930s, ERP representatives and management nonetheless created a sophisticated bargaining structure that represented the shop-floor interests of the mill’s skilled workforce. Meanwhile, the Amalgamated gave way to the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, a professionalized and tightly organized affiliate of John L. Lewis’s CIO, that expended huge resources trying to gain companywide unionization. Even when the SWOC secured a collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Steel in 1937, however, the Union was still unable to sign up a majority of the workforce at Duquesne.
American Airlines Flight 191 crashed on May 25, 1979. All of the 271 people aboard died, as did two more on the ground. The cause: an improperly repaired engine mount that gave out under pressure, smashed a wing of the plane, and severed the hydraulic lines. The loss of hydraulic pressure led to slats on the wing retracting. The DC-10 went into a left roll and crashed. Investigators called it a 10 billion-to-one chance.
The event remains the greatest loss of life in American aviation history after the September 11 attacks. Though a disaster of such magnitude inevitably sears itself into private and public memory, the Flight 191 crash became even more memorable because a traveler at O’Hare Airport named Michael Laughlin captured a chilling image of the plane rolling over and another of the explosion that followed. The Chicago Tribune bought the photos for $500. They instantly became an indelible part of city history.
Observers at the time and after noted that the disaster might easily have been worse. The huge area of wreckage stopped about near a mobile home park and about 500 yards from a cluster of oil tanks belonging to Standard Oil.
The crash occurred during a spate of high profile late Seventies air disasters that included the Tenerife runway collision in 1977, to say nothing of the numerous hijackings that roiled aviation during that era. Flight 191 added to an overall atmosphere of uneasiness related to flying.
At the same time, the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 faced even greater scrutiny. Trouble had dogged the plane almost since its debut in 1970, in particular a problem with cargo doors that led to a horrific crash of a Turkish Airlines flight outside Paris five years before Flight 191. For a time the DC-10 looked finished. The U.S. government grounded the entire fleet of them and banned the plane from U.S. airspace. American Airlines, meanwhile, received a $500,000 fine for using an unapproved maintenance shortcut prior to the disaster.
It is that time of year again! The NWSA/UIP First book prize submission deadline is June 1. This prize seeks the best dissertation or first book manuscript in the field of women’s and gender studies by a single author. The Press and NWSA seek nonfiction manuscripts that exemplify cutting-edge intersectional feminist scholarship, whether the area of focus is historical or contemporary. The competition is open to scholars from all disciplinary backgrounds, but the sponsoring organizations especially encourage work that speaks effectively across disciplines, and projects that offer new perspectives on concerns central to the field of women’s and gender studies. Please visit the NWSA/UIP Book Prize webpage for more information.
We are also delighted to announce that the next prizewinner’s book will be out this fall. Pick up your copy of Christina Holmes’s Ecological Borderlands: Body, Nature, and Sprit in Chicana Feminism at NWSA in Montreal where we’ll be celebrating the book’s release, or on our website. Dr. Holmes focuses on environmental practices among Mexican-American women and offers a rethinking of ecofeminism from the standpoint of Chicana feminists. The book especially speaks to NWSA 2016’s conference theme of decoloniality in that Chicana environmentalism provides pathways to insights in decolonization by linking social and ecological justice outside of a narrow framework, and Dr. Holmes explores the challenges to debates in the canon of ecofeminist literature to develop a more inclusive model of environmental feminism that alleviates some of the biases in Western feminism.
If you have any questions about submitting your first book for this year’s prize, please contact Dawn Durante.
Previous prizewinners include:
2015: Erin L. Durban-Albrecht, Postcolonial Homophobia: United States Imperialism in Haiti and the Transnational Circulation of Antigay Sexual Politics
2014: Ethel Tungohan, Migrant Care Worker Activism in Canada: From the Politics of Everyday Resistance to the Politics from Below
Sports figures have a public profile once reserved for the likes of reigning monarchs and movie stars. In the new UIP book Game Faces, Sarah K. Fields looks at six people faced with what they considered attacks on their privacy and images, and the legal ramifications of the cases they pursued to address their grievances.
Major league baseball pitcher Don Newcombe was part of the first wave of African American players to cross the game’s color line, arriving in Brooklyn to play for the Dodgers in 1949. Newcombe won the Rookie of the Year award and earned a place on the All-Star team en route to starting two games for the Dodgers in that year’s World Series.
A drinker from age eight, Newcombe used alcohol to cope with the game’s pressures, the overt racism he faced both inside and outside the ballpark, and life in general. In later years, Newcombe blamed his problem for keeping him from reaching what he believed was his Hall of Fame potential. He got sober in 1966. Post-retirement, he preached an anti-alcohol message to groups, became a spokesperson for the National Institute on Drug and Alcohol Abuse and other governmental organizations, and worked with those with alcohol problems.
Given that background, Newcombe faced an ironic and personally painful challenge to his image and legacy in 1994. But not only did the Coors Brewing Company exercise astonishing tone-deafness in reference to Newcombe’s one-time problem. It actually diminished the racism he had faced and, being a no-nonsense guy, faced down for many years. Newcombe sued Coors. Fields explains why:
In the February 14, 1994, swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated a one-page ad ran for Killian’s Red beer (an Adolph Coors Brewing Company product). In the ad was a drawing that featured an African American baseball pitcher in mid-windup. Newcombe believed that he was the subject in the drawing because the image seemed to portray his unique, unusually expanded windup stance. The number on the jersey was thirty-nine, however, which was Roy Campanella’s number. Newcombe wore number thirty-six.
The ad itself is an interesting attempt to play on words of color. The left half of the ad contains the image of the pitcher; his face is obscured by his shoulder and the brim of his blue-and-red cap. An infielder crouches behind him in the same uniform, but the name on the front of the jersey is blurry and unreadable. The uniforms are clearly from the middle of the twentieth century and not the mid-1990s. On the right side of the page, underneath a superimposed photo of a pint of beer with the George Killian’s Irish Red logo obscuring part of the text, the text reads:
Most of all, it’s always been a game about color. Where the grass is green and the ball is white and the men in blue yell at guys nicknamed Whitey and Red (who wear hometown white pinstripes and away city greys). And in the stands, blue and white collared fans wave multi-colored pennants, eating red-hots and drinking Red cold. Killian’s Irish Red has the face of [unreadable under photo] Irishman Casey, wi[unreadable] town of Mudville [unreadable] mightily struck out [unreadable] Killian’s Red as fro[unreadable] opening day when pour[unreadable]ed badged vendors fr[unreadable] cherry bat shaped bottl[unreadable] brown paper cups (the crisp amber lager softly spilling over with a wave of red). Yeah, it’s always been a game about color . . . and I think about this as I sip a cold Killian’s Red–watching my team whitewash their rivals. Killian’s Red[.] Ask for it by color.
Although the ad attempted to tap into a nostalgic memory of the game, the overt references to a “game about color” with a drawing from the era when baseball dissolved the color line was perhaps in questionable taste. Newcombe told the press that he found the headline and reference to color to be “racially derogatory.” Coors said that the tag line about color was not problematic but simply playing off of the “color” theme of the red-tinged beer as it had in a number of ads.
Olympic advertising is in full swing. It is a good time to recall that, not long ago, an Olympic year meant far more than corporate tie-ins and moody video of winsome young athletes. The Olympic Games meant war, albeit by other means, a war of propaganda and image, of perception and politics. There’s a reason no one remembers the U.S. hockey team beat Finland for the gold medal in 1980.
Toby C. Rider offers a history of the Cold War’s effect on the Olympic Games from the immediate postwar era through the 1960 Rome Games. At the time the Soviet Union appeared to be in irresistible ascendance and it moved to exploit the Olympic Games as a vehicle for promoting international communism. In response, the United States conceived a subtle, far-reaching psychological warfare campaign to blunt the Soviet advance. Drawing on newly declassified materials and archives, Rider chronicles how the U.S. government used the Olympics to promote democracy and its own policy aims and, when it could, make the Soviets look bad.
Rider’s immense research makes it clear both sides indeed saw sports as a major battlefield in the Cold War. The mass defection of Hungarian athletes at the Melbourne Games in 1956, celebrated by Henry Luce’s media empire and also in part facilitated by it, gave the Soviet Union a black eye, as it underscored their recent brutal intervention in Hungary had less than popular appeal. Contests with perhaps less at stake still moved officials on both sides to dismay and palpitations:
One particular incident prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity. In 1959, an understrength U.S. basketball team lost to the Soviet Union at the world basketball championships in Santiago, Chile. The outcome of the contest, a 62-37 drubbing, was reported in newspapers across Latin America, a fact that greatly disturbed U.S. information experts. “As a result of this victory,” wrote a public affairs officer in Lima, “the Soviet Union has again scored an important psychological advantage and, as far as the average, non-too-intelligent-man-on-the-street is concerned, it is another indication of Soviet ‘superiority’ over the U.S.”
His colleague in Santiago also was irate. The official complained that the U.S. defeat backfired in two respects. Not only was the loss a blow to national prestige, but it also was a “slight to Chilean pride” in that the United States did not deem it necessary to send its best team. He argued that the basketball tournament had “a psychological importance which transcends the frontiers of sports” and that this aspect should be taken into account for future U.S. participation in sports events.
May 20, 1935 proved that budget impasses have played a part in Illinois history for a long time. That day, the papers printed warnings that over a million state residents faced hunger, perhaps outright starvation, due to wrangling between Springfield and the federal government.
The Associated Press put it succinctly:
Cupboards were bare in thousands of homes today where no food orders have been received for a week or more because the Illinois emergency relief commission has no funds.
The Depression was in full tilt boogie mode. With unemployment widespread, relief programs kept people fed and alive. Illinois was to receive $12 million in funds, if it ponied up $3 million on its own. Governor Henry Horner, like many other holders of his office, pled poverty–the state simply had no money. Known as an honest politician (unlike many other other holders of his office), Horner clashed often with Democratic machine politicians, including Ed Kelly, the mayor of Chicago, but the two agreed to use the influence of their respective offices to push through legislation that would hike the state sales tax to three percent. The increase in the tax raised the necessary funds, federal money came through, and Illinois avoided exacerbating an already serious crisis.
By the way, according to the papers, you could also buy a “full metal” refrigerator for $17.95.
Q: Given the colorful history of cheating in the Olympic Games, vigilance from IOC officials is perhaps understandable. But what factors led sex testing to change from finding men masquerading as women to judging whether biological women were “real” women?
Lindsay Parks Pieper: The shift in sex testing paralleled the shift in the International Olympic Committee’s gender beliefs. At first, the IOC—and most sport practitioners—assumed women could not compete in sport. Prevailing ideologies held that physical endeavors were too strenuous for the frail female physique. Medical and sport officials alike framed running, jumping, and throwing as activities reserved explicitly for men. Thus when female Olympians eventually demonstrated competency in these areas, the IOC’s knee-jerk reaction was that these successful athletes could not actually be women. Only men posing as women could run that fast, jump that high, or throw that far, officials reasoned. The IOC therefore conducted its first, sporadic physical exams on the female participants who excelled in “masculine” competitions.
Yet, as female athletes increasingly demonstrated prowess in elite sport, and the IOC failed to uncover a single instance of a male imposter, the ideology changed. From male masqueraders the focus turned to masculine women. The IOC worried that mannish female athletes unfairly defeated “real” women, those who appeared more conventionally feminine. Changing course, the IOC instead suggested that gender verification measures detected unfair biological assets and weeded out unfairly advantaged (i.e. masculine) competitors.
Q: How did Cold War tensions influence Western officials, journalists, and others to see women from the Eastern Bloc in biased ways? Did those tensions create a set of biases around Western women in the Soviet Union, East Germany, and other communist countries?
Pieper: During the Cold War, Eastern and Western countries celebrated contrasting gender norms, which extended into sport. For example, the Soviet Union expected women to labor in the same capacity as men; in turn, the nation also promoted egalitarian sport training and embraced muscular female athletes. The United States, on the other hand, upheld a “June Cleaver” ideal that exalted domesticity and femininity. U.S. women’s sport was moderated to match this model. Both the Soviet Union and the United States viewed the other country’s gender system as harmful and unnatural to women.
As a result, Western officials, journalists, and the larger population disliked both the successes and the appearances of the Soviet women. Newspaper articles criticized the size, muscularity, and power of the Eastern Bloc women. Comparisons to boxers and American football players were commonplace. Eastern accounts likewise disparaged the treatment of Western women. Soviet reports painted American housewives as unhappily anchored in the kitchen and highlighted the United States’ inability to promote equal pay or promote the Equal Rights Amendment.
Q: Sex testing obviously forced women into embarrassing, vulnerable situations. Did women ever protest what might be seen as a violation of their human rights?
Pieper: Not as often as one might think. Although several athletes recounted the humiliating nature of the “nude parade”—the visual inspection of the 1960s—most women supported testing. Western competitors, in particular, backed sex control for three reasons. First, they internalized the IOC’s mantra that testing eliminated male impostors and ensured a level playing field. Two, most did not recognize the complexity of the human body nor realize the flawed nature of the chromatin control. Finally, and most significantly to the athletes, they viewed sex testing as a chance to prove their womanhood. These competitors experienced criticism for their athleticism; testing removed doubt.
That said, once the medical community highlighted the inadequacies of sex testing, several female athletes started to protest the policy. In conjunction with the women’s liberation movement, for example, some questioned why male participants did not have to undergo a parallel procedure. It was actually the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission that finally convinced the Executive Board to abandon the practice in 1999.
Q: Beginning in the late 1970s on, many authorities—including former Olympians—stepped forward to criticize the tests. What specific events, if any, galvanized the anti-testing forces?
Pieper: The 1985 World University Games was a turning point. During this event, María José Martínez Patiño forgot her “femininity certificate,” a document given to women who underwent testing. She had previously passed the exam; yet, this time around, she “failed.” Rather than quietly retire from sport as her team doctor recommended, Patiño continued to compete and ran hurdles at the 1986 Spanish National Games. She immediately faced intense backlash. Spanish sport authorities revoked her athletic scholarship, kicked her out of the athletic residence, and removed her medals. What Patiño experienced was cruel and horrific, but her case caught the attention of the anti-testing group. Finish geneticist Albert de la Chapelle contacted the Spanish hurdler and she became the face of the policy’s flaws. For the first time, those opposed to testing had an athlete who came forward and could show the negative effects of the unsound system.
Q: How did Olympic officials resist the growing evidence that the tests were flawed or even unscientific?
Pieper: Initially, the composition of the IOC Medical Commission allowed it to avoid most questions. The IOC assembled the group to combat doping, with sex testing added as a secondary concern. Most members therefore had expertise for the former issue and not the latter. Moreover, Prince Alexandre de Mérode, the head of the medical commission from 1967 to 2002, was trained in philosophy and law. He was the most steadfast in championing the necessity of sex testing and disregarded the opposition. When evidence of the unscientific nature of the test proved too great to ignore, the medical commission responded to the criticisms by pointing out the uniqueness of sport. De Mérode repeatedly suggested that scientists did not understand the realities or nuances of elite competition. He further argued that sex testing did not aim to delineate sex but simply strove to ensure a level playing field.
In 2015, the State of Illinois designated May 19 as Malcolm X Day. It doesn’t always show up on the list of official state holidays, interestingly enough, perhaps due to bureaucracy’s slow wheels, perhaps because the observance is a trifle controversial. Other than Illinois, the only government entity to recognize the day is the city of Berkeley, California, where schools have let out since 1979.
Praised coast to coast upon publication, The Death and Life of Malcolm X provides a dramatic portrait of one of the most important black leaders of the twentieth century. Focusing on Malcolm X’s rise to prominence and the final year of his life, the book details his rift with the Nation of Islam and its leader, Elijah Muhammad, leading to death threats and eventually assassination at the hands of a death squad. In a new preface for this edition, Peter Goldman reflects on the forty years since the book’s first publication and considers new information based on FBI surveillance that has since come to light.
During the Depression, the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) dispatched scribes to sample the fare at group eating events like church dinners, political barbecues, and clambakes. Its America Eats project sought nothing less than to sample, and report upon, the tremendous range of foods eaten across the United States.
Writers, a demographic known for going hungry even when the economy works properly, threw themselves into the pursuit with gusto. From “ravioli, the diminutive derbies of pastries, the crowns stuffed with a well-seasoned paste” to barbeque seasoning that integrated “salt, black pepper, dried red chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin seed, and cayenne pepper” while “tomatoes, green chili peppers, onions, and olive oil ma[de] up the sauce”, they ate their way through an America that despite hardship seemed only too happy to share.