Race, Ethnicity & Gender

Teaching Labor's Story

Race, Ethnicity & Gender

Overviews: Historical Context


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7.2 Margaret Haley, “Why Teachers Should Organize” 1904

An excerpted speech given by teacher union leader Margaret Haley to the general assembly of the National Education Association in 1904. It was also published in the Journal of Education.

7.3 Clara Lemlich, “The Inside Story of a Shirtwaist Factory” 1912

Clara Lemlich, an immigrant garment worker and labor leader, describes the dangerous and dehumanizing working conditions in New York City’s garment industry and makes a case for woman suffrage.

7.4 Margaret Chanler Aldrich, “The Week Before Christmas,” December 20, 1911

This poem describes conditions faced by retail workers during the Christmas holiday season in the early 1900s. It is critical of wealthy shoppers who contribute to workers’ misery, and was used by the National Consumers’ League to encourage consumers to be allies by getting their shopping done early.

7.6 Right of Women To Vote Kate Debs

In an article from the Appeal to Reason newspaper, Kate Metzel Debs, wife of five-time Socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, presents arguments for the right of women to vote, especially working women.

8.2 Blank Pay Days, 1933

This document is excerpted from an article written by a Chicago school teacher about how the Great Depression was affecting her work and personal life; published 1933 in The Saturday Evening Post.

8.3 Spasmodic Diary of a Chicago School Teacher, 1933

An excerpt from a published selection of a diary that belonged to an anonymous Chicago public school teacher, which was published in The Atlantic Monthly in November 1933.

8.5 Murder of Frank Hanes, 1939

These three letters describe the murder of an African American farm worker named Frank Hanes by Mississippi plantation owner Tom Alexander. Bernice Wims wrote to the U.S. attorney general to request an investigation, but the federal government refused to act.

8.6 Charles Houston, Scottsboro Case, Revisited, 1939

Charles Houston delivered this speech to an International Labor Defense conference on July 8th, 1939. His “Special Paper on…Educational Equality” speech draws a connection between labor, civil rights, and education. Houston specifically links the Scottsboro Case to labor control.

9.1 Triumph of the Paraprofessionals, August 22, 1970

This opinion piece by civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin celebrates the signing of the first union contract for paraprofessional educators — community-based classroom and school support staff, nearly all of them black and Hispanic women — in New York City. It was published in the New York Amsterdam News, the city’s largest black-owned newspaper, in 1970.

9.2 Chavez Explains the Need for Boycotts, 1972

A TV interview with United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez conducted at the height of the struggle during the 1972 election season.

9.3 NOW, Statement of Purpose, 1966

This Statement of Purpose, a founding document of the National Organization for Women (NOW), outlined the founders’ explanation of the problems facing American women and asserted that their sex should organize to solve them. As the largest feminist membership group of the “second wave” era, NOW attacked many of the gendered inequalities that defined American life—especially those related to work. 

9.4 DRUM, Demands 1969

All autoworkers on the Dodge assembly line were represented by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 3, but some workers, particularly Black workers, did not feel equally protected and supported by their union. In 1969 a group of these autoworkers joined with community activists to form the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM). This is one of the first list of demands DRUM issued to Dodge management.

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