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.
Labor leader and social activist Milton Tambor discusses his life’s work in Detroit since the 1950s as a social worker; AFSCME local union president, staff representative and assistant education director; and teaching faculty in both labor studies and social work at Wayne State University and other institutions. He also discusses the intersection of labor and social political movements through his involvement in organizations such as the Detroit Coalition to End the War Now, the Michigan Labor Committee on Central America, and the Democratic Socialists of America in both Detroit and Atlanta. Tambor recently published a memoir titled A Democratic Socialist’s Fifty Year Adventure.
Reuther Library SEIU archivist Sarah Lebovitz shares highlights from the union’s first 100 years, and explains how its archives at the Reuther Library have supported labor organizing and centennial celebrations.
Dr. Allyson Brantley explains how large and diverse groups joined together for a decades-long consumer boycott of the Coors Brewing Company to fight against its union busting, discriminatory hiring practices, and politics. Brantley is an assistant professor of history and Director of Honors & Interdisciplinary Initiatives at the University of La Verne and author of Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade American Consumer Activism.
Dr. Ryan Pettengill explains how communist activists in Detroit worked with labor activists during and after the Second World War to enhance the quality of life in the community by advocating for civil rights, affordable housing, protections for the foreign-born, and more. Pettengill is a Professor of History at Collin College and author of Communists and Community: Activism in Detroit’s Labor Movement, 1941-1956.
Artist and author Justin Beal shares the career and legacy of influential yet often forgotten architect Minoru Yamasaki. Yamasaki’s human-centered architectural design was often overrun by economics, politics, and capitalist symbolism, leading to his two most well-known developments, the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis and the World Trade Center in New York City, to come crashing down on live television some thirty years apart–one at the hands of bureaucrats, the other by terrorists. Beal also considers how modern architectural trends and a changing climate have created a generation of buildings that ignore human needs, contributing to sick building syndrome. Beal recently published Sandfuture, his autobiographical exploration of Yamasaki’s legacy and how modern architecture has failed human health.
Edward McClelland recounts the gripping details of the Flint sit-down strike, and considers what we can learn today from the strikers’ successful fight for shared prosperity in 1936-1937. McClelland is a journalist, historian, and author of Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Built the Middle Class.
Dr. Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz explains how the push to professionalize and standardize educators beginning in the mid-1800s, without granting them decision-making power, has made them the public face of foundering school policies developed and implemented by local school administrators and state and national policymakers. Widespread policy narratives that schools and teachers acting as mother figures can solve communities’ problems have inherently placed the public’s blame on teachers when those problems don’t disappear, as seen most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. D’Amico Pawlewicz is an assistant professor in the Educational Foundations and Research Program at the University of North Dakota, where she focuses on the history of education and social policy. She received the 2021 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award for her recent publication, Blaming Teachers: Professionalization Policies and the Failure of Reform in American History.
After Leonard Woodcock stepped down as president of the UAW in 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent him to Beijing as a diplomatic envoy and ultimately as the nation’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. In the second of a two-part interview, his wife Sharon Woodcock talks about Deng Xiaoping’s visit to the United States; Leonard Woodcock’s work after leaving the State Department, including his work on the Board of Governors of Wayne State University; and his support of the Reuther Library. UAW archivist Gavin Strassel discusses Leonard Woodcock’s archival collections at the Reuther Library and the unique, first-hand view they provide into the formation of modern China and U.S / China relations.
After Leonard Woodcock stepped down as president of the UAW in 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent him to Beijing as a diplomatic envoy and ultimately as the nation’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. In the first of a two-part interview, his wife Sharon Woodcock talks about Leonard’s labor ideals and shares tales about their time in the ambassador’s residence, including his unusually close relationship with Deng Xiaoping, the leader and architect of modern China.