Labor History Seminar: Margaret Garb, Washington University

Labor History Seminar
Friday, February 18, 2011

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Please Note: This meeting of the labor seminar will be held in the Gage Gallery at Roosevelt University: 18 South Michigan Avenue, First Floor.

“ ‘Nothing but Union Men’: A Black and White Workers Alliance in Industrializing Chicago”
Margaret Garb, Washington University

Chicago’s Culinary Alliance was a rare example of successful inter-racial labor organizing in 1890s Chicago. The Alliance, formed by sixteen German waiters on 3 January 1889, quickly expanded to include most of Chicago’s African American waiters, cooks and bartenders working in the oyster houses, lunch counters and hotels in the city’s commercial center. The Alliance’s history demonstrates that an urban black proletariat was emerging even before the Great Migration, that African-American activists consciously linked struggles over working conditions to civil rights, and that the industrializing north profoundly shaped black politics in the twentieth century. For scholars, it suggests a new geography of post-Reconstruction politics, highlighting the powerful impact of race on urban labor organizing and politics.

Commentators: Peter Cole, Western Illinois University and Gregory Wilson, University of Illinois at Chicago