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Chicago's race, labor landscape in 1960s is topic of talk

08/26/2014
The struggles of African-Americans in 1960s Chicago to achieve equality in the workplace will be the topic of Monmouth College’s 7th annual Labor Day Lecture on Sept. 1.
 
Sponsored by the college’s history department, the free lecture will be presented at 7 p.m. in the Pattee Auditorium, on the lower level of the Center for Science and Business.
 
Erik Gellman, associate professor of history at Roosevelt University, will deliver the lecture, which is titled “Labor Rights are Civil Rights: Chicagoan’s Struggles for Economic Justice in the Late 1960s.” He will analyze the activism of working class African-Americans as they attempted to dismantle institutional racism, as well as discuss how the urban crisis in the 1960s helps us understand Chicago’s race and class problems today.
 
Gellman’s lecture will cover such provocative topics as the Black Power movement, labor strikes and boycotts, the Chicago Red Squad police department and the city’s gangs. His presentation will include raw news footage from the era, as well as primary documents to provide a feel for the turbulence of the ’60s.
 
The associate director of Roosevelt’s St. Clair Drake Center for African and African American Studies, Gellman is the author of the 2012 book “Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights.” A year earlier, he co-authored “The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America,” which received the Southern Historical Association’s H.L. Mitchell Prize.