Jul 25, 2021
In this episode we talk to Peter Cole, historian and author of Ben Fletcher, The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly.
Fletcher was among the most successful union organizers in the early 20th century, and a Black leader of the Local 8 union - a component of the Industrial Workers of the World - which organized on the docks in South Philadelphia beginning in 1913. Local 8 of the IWW's Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union, was the most powerful interracial union of its era, and the IWW or the Wobblies were the most radical union organizing in the US in the early part of the 20th Century.
We talk to Cole about the life and times of Ben Fletcher, about the successes of Local 8, the repression Fletcher faced as a political prisoner, Fletcher’s relationships to other members of the Black left, and what we know about the successes and eventual demise of Local 8 after a decade of radical union work on the docks in Philadelphia.
Stay tuned to the end of the episode to hear more about how Cole is looking to further commemorate Fletcher’s legacy, and about Cole’s work around the Chicago Race Riot of 1919.
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