Labor unions empowered African Americans to help overcome elements of racism and move more into the middle class during the mid-20th century. Yet even the unions could not defeat the power of individual racism.
On the pilot episode of WDET’s new podcast, Created Equal, hosts Stephen Henderson and Laura Weber-Davis explore the strength of unions, and the fragility of opportunity in America.
Johns Hopkins University associate professor Lester Spence discusses what makes unions so vital, historically, to the modern workforce. And Northwestern University professor Kevin Boyle tells the story of James Major, a black man from the south who moved north for work, and an opportunity for a middle-class life. Major’s close friendship with his line partner, a white woman, at the Dodge Main auto plant in Hamtramck, unraveled his ability to find good, union-protected work in the 1950s.
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