December 10th, 2020
In our seventh podcast, Marianne Garneau interviews Peter Cole, author of Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly, now out in its second edition from PM Press. Fletcher organized the Philadelphia docks in the 1910s and 1920s into the IWW’s Local 8. He is a lesser-known historical figure but had major significance in his own time, in both the labor movement and black struggles. Local 8 is an example of powerful worker organizing because it never gave up the right to strike or take disruptive action on the job.
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.