“Girls, We Cannot Lose!”: Midwestern Black Women Activists During the Great Depression



Dr. Melissa Ford explores the influence of working-class Black women in Detroit, St. Louis, and Cleveland on the development of Black radicalism in the American Midwest during the Great Depression.

Ford is an associate professor of African American history at Slippery Rock University and author of A Brick and a Bible: Black Women’s Radical Activism in the Midwest during the Great Depression.

Related Collections:
Black Workers in the Labor Movement Oral Histories
Black Workers in the Labor Movement Oral Histories: Joseph and Rose Billups
Robert W. Dunn Papers
Maurice Sugar Papers

Related Resources:
A Brick and a Bible: Black Women’s Radical Activism in the Midwest during the Great Depression.
Subject Focus: Ford Hunger March
1932 Ford Hunger March Image Gallery

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Melissa Ford
Music: Bart Bealmear


“No Labor Dictators For Us”: Revisiting Anti-Union Forces in the Flint Sit-Down Strike



While the 1936-1937 Flint Sit-Down is usually viewed as a pivotal success for the UAW, Dr. Gregory Wood considers more closely the influence of anti-union workers and the General Motors-supported Flint Alliance both during and after the strike. Wood is an associate professor and chair of the history department at Frostburg State University. His research will be featured in a forthcoming article in the Michigan Historical Review titled, “’No Labor Dictators for Us’: Anti-Union Workers During the Flint Sit-Down Strikes.”

Related Collections:
Henry Kraus Papers
Flint Auto Worker
Reuther Library Oral History Collections

Related Resources:
Michigan Historical Review
Subject Focus: Remembering the Flint Sit-Down

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Greg Wood
Music: Bart Bealmear


Heard It On the News: Preserving 20th Century Detroit History Through Local Newscasts



Reuther Library audiovisual archivist Mary Wallace discusses the Library’s WWJ / WDIV Film, Video, and Teleprompter Scripts collection, which captures seven decades of news, current events, politics, and community life as reported by the Detroit news station from the 1920s through 1990s.

Related Collections:

WWJ / WDIV Film, Video, and Teleprompter Scripts

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Mary Wallace
Music: Bart Bealmear


George W. Crockett, Jr., 1968-02-14

No Equal Justice: The Legal and Civil Rights Legacy of George W. Crockett Jr.



Peter Hammer describes the life and legacy of civil rights icon George W. Crockett, Jr. A Black lawyer who fought racism and defended constitutional rights in landmark cases in the 1940s through the 1960s, Crockett brought his ethos to the Detroit Recorder’s Court during his time on the bench from 1966 through 1978, and to his decade of service in the 1980s as a Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hammer is an A. Alfred Taubman Endowed Chair in the Wayne State University Law School and director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. With Wayne State Law Professor Emeritus Edward J. Littlejohn, Hammer coauthored the biography, No Equal Justice: The Legacy of Civil Rights Icon George W. Crockett Jr.

Related Collections:
George Crockett Papers
Ernest Goodman Papers
Edward J. Littlejohn Papers (Available for public access in 2023)

Related Resources:
No Equal Justice: The Legacy of Civil Rights Icon George W. Crockett Jr.

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Peter Hammer
Music: Bart Bealmear


A Miasma of Metals: The Steelworkers’ Environmental Call Following the Donora Smog of 1948



Louise Milone recounts how smog produced by the southwestern Pennsylvanian steel industry poisoned the air in the Monongahela Valley town of Donora on November 1, 1948, killing more than 22 people and sickening thousands more. Exploring the response of the US Steel Corporation, employees, and Donora residents, Milone explains how the United Steelworkers of America union pushed for an investigation and improved environmental and health and safety regulations following the disaster. Milone is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Georgia Department of History.

Related Collections:
Olga Madar Papers

Harvey O’Connor Papers
UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Louise Milone
Music: Bart Bealmear


Governor George Romney leads the demonstration against housing discrimination through the “Village” in Grosse Pointe. Second from right is NAACP Detroit president Edward Turner.

A “Most Conscientious and Considerate Method”: Grosse Pointe’s Gross Post-War Housing Point System



Emma Maniere describes how homeowners associations in Grosse Pointe, an affluent suburb bordering Detroit, developed a point system following the Second World War to rank and exclude prospective homebuyers to maintain the community’s Anglo Christian whiteness and affluence. The point system, which ranked nativity and ethnicity, accent, skin tone, and occupation, among other measures, was dismantled in 1960 but left a pernicious legacy that continues to reverberate in the community today. Maniere is a doctoral candidate in the history program at New York University.

Related Collections:

ACLU of Michigan and Metropolitan Detroit Branch Records

Kathy Groehn Cosseboom El-Messidi Papers
Grosse Pointe Civil Rights Organizations Records

JCA: Jewish Community Council Records

Related Resources:
A “Most Conscientious and Considerate Method”: Residential Segregation and Integrationist Activism in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, 1960-1970

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Emma Maniere
Music: Bart Bealmear


Labor’s End: Automation’s Failed Promise of Freedom



Dr. Jason Resnikoff explains that the rise of automation in the mid-20th century workplace was heralded as a way to free workers from manual labor, but resulted instead in the intensification of human labor and the degradation of workers’ protections and powers. Resnikoff is a core lecturer in the History Department at Columbia University and author of Labor’s End: How the Promise of Automation Degraded Work.

Related Collections:
UAW archival collections
Detroit Revolutionary Movements Records
James and Grace Lee Boggs Papers

Related Resources:
Labor’s End: How the Promise of Automation Degraded Work

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Jason Resnikoff
Music: Bart Bealmear


Detroit vs. Everybody: Exploring Race, Place, and Black Superheroes in DC Comics



Dr. Vincent Haddad explains that while Detroit has often served as the inspiration for crime-ridden settings in comics, DC Comics rose above those stereotypes with black superheroes Amazing-Man in the 1980s series All-Star Squadron and the Cyborg solo series in the 2010s. He describes how those two series represented Detroit and issues of race, policing, and culture in a more historically-informed and nuanced manner.

Haddad is an associate professor of English at Central State University in Ohio, and the author of “Detroit vs. Everybody (Including Superheroes): Representing Race through Setting in DC Comics,” published in Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society.

Related Collections:
Virtual Motor City / Detroit News Photograph Collection

Related Resources:
Detroit vs. Everybody (Including Superheroes): Representing Race through Setting in DC Comics

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Vincent Haddad
Music: Bart Bealmear


Detroit Remains: Using Historical Archeology to Connect Detroit’s Past to Its Present



Dr. Krysta Ryzewski explains how historical archaeology digs at famous Detroit locales – including the Little Harry speakeasy, the Blue Bird Inn, and the Grande Ballroom – have clarified how underrepresented communities of Detroit experienced and responded to the Great Migration, changing economic forces, and a shifting political and social landscape in the 20th century. Ryzweski is an associate professor and chair of the Anthropology Department at Wayne State University, and author of Detroit Remains: Archaeology and Community Histories of Six Legendary Places.

Related Collections:
Virtual Motor City / Detroit News Photograph Collection

Related Resources:
Detroit Remains: Archaeology and Community Histories of Six Legendary Places
Wayne State University Gordon L. Grosscup Museum of Anthropology

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Krysta Ryzewski
Music: Bart Bealmear


Environmental Activism in Deindustrialized Detroit



Brandon Ward explains how Detroit residents, community organizations, and the labor movement, alarmed by the pollution remaining in Detroit’s deindustrialized era that mostly heavily impacted Black Americans and the working class, worked together from the 1970s onward to create a healthier, greener, and more livable city.

Ward is a lecturer at Perimeter College at Georgia State University and author of Living Detroit: Environmental Activism in an Age of Urban Crisis.

Donations to the Walter P. Reuther Library Endowment Fund are gratefully accepted to support this podcast and enhance access to the Reuther Library’s collections.

Related Collections:
Detroit Revolutionary Movements Records
Olga Madar Papers
UAW Conservation and Recreation Department Records
UAW Local 600 Records

Related Resources:
Living Detroit: Environmental Activism in an Age of Urban Crisis

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Brandon Ward
Music: Bart Bealmear