Black and Blue : African Americans, the Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party
In the 1930s, fewer than one in one hundred U.S. labor union members were African American. By 1980, the figure was more than one in five. Black and Blue explores the politics and history that led to this dramatic integration of organized labor. In the process, the book tells a broader story about how the Democratic Party unintentionally sowed the seeds of labor's decline.
The labor and civil rights movements are the cornerstones of the Democratic Party, but for much of the twentieth century these movements worked independently of one another. Paul Frymer argues that as Democrats passed separate legislation to promote labor rights and racial equality they split the issues of class and race into two sets of institutions, neither of which had enough authority to integrate the labor movement.
From this division, the courts became the leading enforcers of workplace civil rights, threatening unions with bankruptcy if they resisted integration. The courts' previously unappreciated power, however, was also a problem: in diversifying unions, judges and lawyers enfeebled them financially, thus democratizing through destruction. Sharply delineating the double-edged sword of state and legal power, Black and Blue chronicles an achievement that was as problematic as it was remarkable, and that demonstrates the deficiencies of race- and class-based understandings of labor, equality, and power in America.
"Black and Blue is an exceptional study of the relationships between the civil rights and labor movements during the second half of the twentieth century...His study of the particular details of this struggle, as well as the institutional circumstances that guided the struggle will be discussed for years to come."--Mark Graber, Balkinization
"Paul Frymer's Black and Blue is an important book, precisely because it takes what should be so obvious to scholars and makes it appear as such. At least since the mid-1980s, scholars have debated the 'rise and fall' of the labor-civil rights movement and its relationship to the power and authority of the Democratic party. Combining the methodologies of politics, the law, and history, Frymer's interdisciplinary work should help settle this long-running debate and contribute to new (and perhaps even more productive) avenues of inquiry."--Peter F. Lau, Journal of American History
"Black and Blue is a powerful demonstration of how a different theoretical paradigm can result in new interpretations of not only historical events, but current understandings of both racism and judicial legitimacy. Although there are many unanswered questions resulting from this intriguing book, it offers some fruitful new directions for the burgeoning scholarship in intersectionality, as well as continuing in the traditions of American Political Development and New Institutionalism."--Michelle D. Deardorff, Law and Politics Book Review
"[T]his is an exceptionally interesting book. Frymer makes new arguments, uses fresh evidence, and addresses important questions. He casts new light on the historical relationship between labor and the civil rights movement."--Michael P. Hanagan, American Journal of Sociology
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Princeton University Press
January 01, 2007
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