Black unionism in the industrial South

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Texas A & M University Press, 2000 - Business & Economics - 183 pages
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IN THE EARLY twentieth century, the Upper Texas Gulf Coast was one of the fastest-growing industrial areas in the country. The cotton trade had attracted railroad and ship labor to the banks of the Gulf of Mexico, numerous oil refineries sprouted up in response to the Spindletop gusher of 1901, and the shipbuilding and steel trades were also prospering as a result of the oil boom. Such economic promise attracted thousands of black laborers from across the South who hoped to find a good job and a better life. They were instead kept in low-wage jobs, refused union memberships, and restricted in their mobility.Black Unionism in the Industrial South presents the struggles of black workers who fought for equality and unionization in the heyday of Gulf Coast industry. Ernest Obadele-Starks examines the workers' responses to racial and class domination and their creative strategies to reach their goals. Facing public and corporate policies that typically deferred to white workers, blacks banded together to achieve representation in the workplace, form union auxiliaries, charter their own local unions, seal alliances with members of the black middle class, and manipulate the media to benefit their cause.Although workers supported each other and their cause, activists did debate the best course of action, whether to attempt to penetrate the white-dominated unions, create new black unions, or seek new employment with sympathetic members of the black middle class. All of these tools were eventually used to mobilize the workforce and to earn recognition for the contribution black laborers made to industry and the community.Obadele-Starks eloquently captures these workers' fight anddiscusses the implications of their struggle on the industrial society of the Upper Texas Gulf Coast today. Students and scholars of American labor history, race relations, and Texas history will find Black Unionism in the Industri

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Contents

The World of the Black Unionist
3
Black Longshoremen and the Racial Paradox
37
Railroad Workers Broaden the Struggle
53
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Ernest Obadele-Starks holds a joint appointment as an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University-College Station and Texas A&M University at Qatar. He is the author of Black Unionism in the Industrial South and has written several articles examining various political and social aspects of the African American diaspora. He is currently working on a comparative study of free black settlements in Canada, the United States, and Mexico from 1849 to 1867.