Assembly Line Housing: Walter P. Reuther, George Romney, and Operation Breakthrough – Part 1



In the first of a two-part series, Dr. Kristin Szylvian explains the role of the American labor movement, and UAW president Walter Reuther in particular, in lobbying for and shaping fair housing programs and legislation in Detroit and nationally after the Second World War. That influence paved the way for an unlikely alliance in the 1960s between Reuther and George Romney, the former Republican governor of Michigan, when they joined together in the late 1960s to launch Operation Breakthrough, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program to use union-made manufactured housing to alleviate the housing crisis in minority communities while also creating job opportunities and encouraging racial and income integration in the larger community.

 

Related Collections

UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records

Episode Credits

Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English

Host: Dan Golodner

Interviewee: Kristin M. Szylvian

Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace


I Am A Man: Photographer Richard Copley Recalls His First Assignment, 50 Years After the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike



AFSCME archivist Stefanie Caloia shares photographer Richard Copley’s story of his very first and what he considers his most important assignment covering the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike and, ultimately, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and memorial march.

Related Collections

AFSCME Local 1733 Records

AFSCME Office of the President: Jerry Wurf Records

1968 Sanitation Workers Strike Image Gallery

Episode Credits

Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English

Host: Dan Golodner

Interviewee: Stefanie Caloia, excerpts from Richard Copley

Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace


Jessica Levy on “Black Power, Inc.: Global American Business and the Post-Apartheid City”



Jessica Levy explains how American corporations and black entrepreneurs worked together to forge a new politics linking American business with black liberation at home and abroad, focusing particularly on Leon Howard Sullivan, a civil rights leader and board member of General Motors who used his position to influence American corporate anti-apartheid actions.

Levy is a PhD Candidate at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Continue reading Jessica Levy on “Black Power, Inc.: Global American Business and the Post-Apartheid City”


American Labor’s Anti-Apartheid Movement and Nelson Mandela’s 1990 U.S. Tour



Meghan Courtney, Reuther Library archivist, discusses Nelson Mandela’s 1990 visit to the U.S. as well as his long-term relationship with the American Labor Movement during his time in prison and after his release.

Mandela’s 12 day, 8 city fundraising tour in June 1990 took place just months after his release from 27 years in a South African prison and included visits to the AFL-CIO, AFSCME’s convention, UAW Local 600 and Tiger Stadium. Courtney explores Mandela’s philosophical alignment with the labor movement, labor’s support for anti-apartheid efforts in the U.S., and archival collections at the Reuther Library where researchers might find evidence of Mandela’s friendships and partnerships.
Continue reading American Labor’s Anti-Apartheid Movement and Nelson Mandela’s 1990 U.S. Tour


Julia Gunn on Civil Rights Anti-Unionism: Charlotte and the Remaking of Anti-Labor Politics in the Modern South



Dr. Julia Gunn explains how progressive civil rights politics enabled Charlotte, North Carolina, to become the nation’s second-largest largest financial capital while obscuring its intransigence towards working-class protest, including public sector sanitation workers, bus drivers, firefighters, and domestic workers. Gunn is a Critical Writing Fellow in History at the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading Julia Gunn on Civil Rights Anti-Unionism: Charlotte and the Remaking of Anti-Labor Politics in the Modern South


Dawn Mabalon on UFW labor organizer Larry Itliong – Part 2



In part 2 of our interview with Dawn Mabalon, she explains how her personal and familial interests influenced her research on the life and work of United Farm Workers labor organizer Larry Itliong, as well as her forthcoming children’s book, Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong. Dr. Mabalon is an Associate Professor at San Francisco State University and a co-founder of the the Little Manila Foundation, which “advocates for the historic preservation of the Little Manila Historic Site in Stockton, California and provides education and leadership to revitalize our Filipina/o American community.”

Her research draws heavily on the personal papers of Larry Itliong, as well as records from other farm labor leaders found in the United Farm Workers collections at the Reuther Library. Mabalon’s research visit was supported through a Sam Fishman Travel Grant, which provides up to $1,000 for scholars to support travel to Detroit to access archival records of the American labor movement in the Reuther Library. The award is named in honor of Sam Fishman, a former UAW and Michigan AFL-CIO leader.

Related Archival Collections

Larry Itliong Papers

Philip Vera Cruz Papers

Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee Records

UFW Office of the President: Cesar Chavez Records

Episode Credits

Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English

Host: Dan Golodner

Interviewee: Dawn Mabalon

Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace.


Dawn Mabalon on UFW labor organizer Larry Itliong – Part 1



In this inaugural episode of Tales from the Reuther Library, Dawn Mabalon, an Associate Professor at San Francisco State University, shares her research on the life and work of Larry Itliong, a Filipino leader of California’s farm labor movement. She explains to Reuther archivist Dan Golodner the relationship between Filipino and Mexican farm workers, reframing this struggle in multi-ethnic and multi-generational contexts to be more inclusive of radical Filipino American perspectives. Continue reading Dawn Mabalon on UFW labor organizer Larry Itliong – Part 1