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Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality Paperback – January 28, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Since their inception nearly two centuries ago, railroads have provided black men (and some women) with steady employment. Paradoxically, though many track layers, porters, brakemen, firemen, waiters and redcaps were able to make a good living, the railroad industry was one of the most institutionalized forms of racism in the U.S. (e.g., blacks were legally represented by the same unions that forbade them membership), maintains Eric Arnesen, professor of history at the University of Illinois. Brotherhood of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality is Arnesen's exhaustive and illuminating work of scholarship. ( Feb.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Arnesen provides a fascinating look at U.S. labor and commerce in the arena of the railroads, so much a part of romantic notions about the growth of the nation. The focus of the book is the troubled history of the railroads in the exploitation of black workers from slavery until the civil rights movement, with an insightful analysis of the broader racial integration brought about by labor activism. Early in their expansion, the railroads leased or owned slaves and contracted with southern states to use convicts as laborers. Arnesen shows that the "association of race and service proved remarkably strong and enduring" as the railroads persisted in using blacks exclusively as hard laborers or service workers. Arnesen recalls the fragmented efforts of black unions and men such as A. Philip Randolph to organize and fight the discriminatory treatment of the white unions as well as the railroad companies. Yet, the Pullman porter of earlier railroad history is also an enduring, positive figure in black history, for the porters worked in relatively well-paying, stable jobs, traveled the nation, and brought news about black people from around the country. Among those who worked as Pullman porters were Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes, and Roy Wilkins. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
While tempted, the Author limits his judgements and personal perferences about the legal outcomes of the countless legal proceedings to overcome racist practices and obstacles. Instead, he draws the reader into to public policy debates with open ended ideas and powerful suggestions. His analysis of the African-American experiences neither surprising or profound. However, the effort to provide a foundation of truths and facts is achieved.
The reader will be enlightened by such candid facts and news reports from the African-American perspective, obtained from labor newspapers and journals. The Brotherhood of Color is an excellent read and a strong addition to the body of knowledge that is often too silent on the subject matter. The Brothhoods of Color is a Classic.