Peter Cole's Blog

Ben Fletcher: Building the IWW’s Interracial Class War Politics — Peter Cole on IGD

It’s Going Down
November 5th, 2020

It’s Going Down speaks with labor historian and professor Peter Cole about African-American labor leader Ben Fletcher, who played a key role in Local 8 of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical syndicalist and anti-capitalist labor union. We talk about how the IWW rejected white supremacy and promoted anti-racist politics, went up against the KKK in some instances, and brought together both African-American workers and European immigrants into one fighting union. We also discuss how Fletcher was targeted by the Red Scare, did time in prison, and was seen as both a national and international figure.

Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly

Peter Cole is a professor of history at Western Illinois University in Macomb and a research associate in the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Cole is the author of the award-winning Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area and Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive-Era Philadelphia. He coedited Wobblies of the World: A Global History of the IWW. He is the founder and codirector of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project.

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