Black Workers' Struggle for Equality in Birmingham

Author: Edited by Horace Huntley and David Montgomery
Afterword by Odessa Woolfolk
Union building and civil rights activism in a tightly segregated industrial city
Paper – $27
Publication Date
Paperback: 04/01/2007
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About the Book

Horace Huntley and David Montgomery curate a collection of annotated oral interviews of black workers who served on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama. As the interviewees recount their struggles against discrimination, they show how collective action--whether through unions, the Movement, or networks of workplace activists--sought to gain access to better jobs, municipal services, housing, and less restrictive voter registration.

Powerful and honest, Black Workers' Struggle for Equality in Birmingham draws on work by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to offer readers vivid eyewitness accounts of American history in the making.

About the Author

Horace Huntley is a retired professor of history from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and the director of the Oral History Project and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. David Montgomery (1927–2011) was a professor emeritus of history at Yale and the author of The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925 and other books.

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"For those who employ oral narratives as a means to explore experiences in the segregated south, Black Workers' Struggle for Equality in Birmingham should be a welcome addition. With the excellent introduction by David Montgomery, much can be gleaned from this collection of narratives."--Labor History

"Accessible to a broad audience, Black Workers' Struggle for Equality in Birmingham will prove useful as a resource in undergraduate labor history courses and for students seeking easy access to compelling documentary evidence of the close ties between black workers' participation in labor organizing and their battle for civil rights. Montgomery's analytical introduction will benefit all who are concerned with issues of race and labor."--Labor Studies Journal

"There is perhaps no better place to start for an insight into the specifics of white supremacy and the harsh struggle for economic justice and freedom that has characterized working-class and black life in the South and America."--Journal of Southern History

"The oral histories excerpted here document the rich organizational networks that suffused the community, and the 'sphere of self-organized workers' activity' largely ignored by historians that was key to the movement's tenacity and ultimate successes."--Anarcho-Syndicalist Review

"This book is a must-read for anyone searching for firsthand knowledge of how hard minorities had to fight for equality in a land of opportunity. It is also a must-read for those seeking to understand minorities' shared experience of never giving up."--U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review