The story of the African-American working class is the story of democratic struggle: of pairing the fight against racism with the fight against economic exploitation to push the US to become a freer and more just society.
Keisha N. Blain is professor of Africana studies and history at Brown University. Her latest book is Wake Up America: Black Women on the Future of Democracy, forthcoming in February 2024.
In the early twentieth century, conservative “race leaders” like Booker T. Washington preached self-help and other accommodationist nostrums. William Monroe Trotter was different. A pioneering black editor, he worked closely with African-American workers to advance a liberatory black politics.
Over the last four hundred years, black workers have played a vital role in shaping the US’s political economy. In order to understand America, we have to understand the struggles of the black working class.
W. E. B. Du Bois died on this day in 1963. Few figures were more influential in shaping the struggle against colonialism.