Historians have long realized the US civil rights movement pre-dated Martin Luther King Jr., but they disagree on where, when and why it started. Laboured Protest offers new answers in a study of black political protest during the New Deal and Second World War. It finds a diverse movement where activists from the left operated alongside, and often in competition with, others who signed up to liberal or nationalist political platforms. Protestors in this period often struggled to challenge the different types of discrimination facing black workers, but their energetic campaigning was part of a more complex, and ultimately more interesting, movement than previously thought.
Table of Contents
1. The New Deal, the Rise of Organized Labour and National Civil Rights Organizations During the 1930s
2. When "Poems Became Placards": Black Protest in 1930s New York City
3. Civil Rights Activism in Detroit in the Era of Unionization, 1933-1941
4. "Getting a Grand Runaround by Management, Government and the Union": The Shifting Contours of Employment Discrimination in Wartime
5. The March on Washington Movement and National-Level Protest During the Second World War
6. A Tale of Two Committees: Black Protest in Wartime New York City
7. Black Protests Against Employment Discrimination in Wartime Detroit
Conclusion: Civil Rights Activism in the Era of Laboured Protest
Oliver Ayers is a Lecturer in Modern History at the New College of the Humanities in London.