Event: A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History (3/7)

Wednesday, March 7th , 2018
12 pm-1pm
The Murphy Institute, 25 W. 43rd St., New York, NY
Room 18A

The civil rights movement has become national legend, lauded by presidents from Reagan to Obama to Trump, as proof of the power of American democracy. This fable, featuring dreamy heroes and accidental heroines, has shuttered the movement firmly in the past, whitewashed the forces that stood in its way, and diminished its scope. And it is used perniciously in our own times to chastise present-day movements and obscure contemporary injustice.

In A More Beautiful and Terrible History award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects this national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light. We see Rosa Parks not simply as a bus lady but a lifelong criminal justice activist and radical; Martin Luther King, Jr. as not only challenging Southern sheriffs but Northern liberals, too; and Coretta Scott King not only as a “helpmate” but a lifelong economic justice and peace activist who pushed her husband’s activism in these directions.

Moving from “the histories we get” to “the histories we need,” Theoharis challenges nine key aspects of the fable to reveal the diversity of people, especially women and young people, who led the movement; the work and disruption it took; the role of the media and “polite racism” in maintaining injustice; and the immense barriers and repression activists faced. Theoharis makes us reckon with the fact that far from being acceptable, passive or unified, the civil rights movement was unpopular, disruptive, and courageously persevering. Activists embraced an expansive vision of justice—which a majority of Americans opposed and which the federal government feared.

Jeanne Theoharis is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She is the author or coauthor of seven books and numerous articles on the history of the Black freedom struggle and on the contemporary politics of race in the United States. Theoharis’s New York Times best-selling biography The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks won the 2014 NAACP Image Award and the Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians.

The Murphy Institute Welcomes New Staff

As the Murphy Institute prepares for the fall 2018 semester—our first as the CUNY School for Labor an Urban Studies—we are very pleased to announce four new appointments that will add luster to our already exceptional faculty and staff. Basil Smikle and James Steele have been appointed to our full-time faculty as Distinguished Lecturers in Politics and Public Policy. Stephen Greenfeld will assume the post of Academic Program Manager for Urban Studies. Warren Winter will be our new Information Technology Director, helping us advance our technical capacities as we make the transition from Institute to full-fledged CUNY School. Welcome all! Continue reading The Murphy Institute Welcomes New Staff

Uber, the “Metropocalypse,” and Economic Inequality in D.C.

This post originally appeared at Working-Class Perspectives.

By Katie Wells, Kafui Attoh, and Declan Cullen

Public transit infrastructure in Washington, D.C. is crumbling. Metro and bus services have been cut. Fares have gone up. And, safety remains a problem. After 40 years of deferred maintenance, poor management, and the lack of decent, long-term funding, the Metro system needs $1.4 billion worth of repairs, and it must close a $290 million budget gap just to continue basic operations. Some call this the “metropocalypse.”

Private taxi services haven’t been much better. It’s often hard to get a cab, especially for people of color or people who live outside of the wealthy, White areas of the city. Racial prejudice among the mostly immigrant taxi drivers means that Black residents are regularly refused service.

In light of these transit problems, Uber might seem like an obvious win for D.C. Ridesharing services are cheap for riders, require no significant public investment, and limit some of the discrimination that has made getting a taxi so difficult for so many people. Our research shows otherwise. Indeed, Uber could undermine the very thing city officials are working hard to address: economic inequality. Continue reading Uber, the “Metropocalypse,” and Economic Inequality in D.C.

New Labor Forum Highlights: Feb. 19th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

Some of the best of what New Labor Forum has to offer comes in the form of the artwork we publish and review. In addition to printing poetry in each issue, NLF Books & the Arts Editor Gabriel Winant ensures that we carry appraisals of fine arts exhibits, film, theater, and literature, as well as books you might expect. And our “Out of the Mainstream” listing curated by Matt Witt provides brief synopses of films and books less widely reviewed, but of likely interest to our readers.

In this installment of the newsletter, we offer a review by Adom Getachew (due out in our May issue) on a current exhibit “The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workers.” This show is on view through Sept. 3, 2018 at The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., a venue much better known for Presidential portraiture than for the enslaved childcare worker, bobbin girl, powerhouse mechanic, sandwich maker, and other laborers included in this show.

And we include from the current issue of the journal the poem “Winter after the Strike” by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Gregory Pardlo, who writes with poignant grace of his childhood as the son of a local union leader in the tragic PATCO strike of 1981. Also on the subject of the PATCO strike, Pardlo’s new book, Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America, is due out in April 2018.

On the theme of new and forthcoming books, NLF Editor-at-Large Steve Fraser’s Class Matters: The Strange Career of an American Delusion is due out next month. In his latest book, Fraser examines six signposts of American history—the settlements at Plymouth and Jamestown; the ratification of the Constitution; the Statue of Liberty; the cowboy; the “kitchen debate” between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev; and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech—to explore just how pervasively class has shaped our national conversation, despite our best efforts to pretend it doesn’t.

And finally, in the run-up to the Academy Awards, we direct your attention to a recent New York Times review of three Oscar-nominated documentary shorts featuring working-class protagonists and themes: Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Heroin(e), Kate Davis’ Traffic Stop, and Laura Checkoway’s Edith+Eddie.

Table of Contents

  1. Review: Portrait of the Worker as a Black Woman/ Adom Getachew, New Labor Forum
  2. Poem: “Winter After the Strike”/ Gregory Pardlo, New Labor Forum
  3. Class Matters: The Strange Career of an American Delusion/ Steve Fraser, Yale University Press
  4. Review: In the Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts, Moving Portraits and Visceral Stories/ Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

Feature photo shows Tommy (Holding His Bootblack Kit) by Jacob Riis / Modern gelatin silver print from dry plate negative, c. 1890 (printed from original negative, 1994) Museum of the City of New York, New York City; gift of Roger William Riis, 1990

Welcoming the Spring 2018 Union Semester Class

Nadja Barlera

Born in New York and raised in many places, Nadja is a recent graduate from USC with a degree in English. She was a community and labor organizer with the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation and service worker unions on campus. She is excited to join the Union Semester and learn about the labor movement in New York.

 

Zane Markosian

Zane lives in Northampton, MA and is in his third year at Oberlin College where he is studying Politics and History. He’s been most interested in classes relating to economic inequality and power in America. He’s excited to be a part of Union Semester because he wants to spend time gaining a real-world perspective on these issues.

 

Kristina Lilley

A Portland, Maine native with a heart for serving others, Kristina is a recent graduate of the University of Southern Maine with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Biology. Her passion for social justice was heightened after her time spent overseas serving in the mission field. Kristina is eager to leverage all the experiences that will be earned by participating in her upcoming internship. She will complete her Master’s degree in labor studies this fall and plans to help advance the existing workforce and create a lasting impact within her community.

 

Jake Appet

Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Jake Appet is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where he studied creative writing. After spending the last five years as a professional filmmaker, he has shifted his energy toward electoral organizing and activism. He  volunteered extensively for two DSA-endorsed City-Council candidates, Khader El-Yateem and Jabari Brisport, and continues to work on organizing efforts with the central Brooklyn branch of the Democratic Socialists of America. He is looking forward to exploring a new career path within the labor movement.

 

Jose Sanchez

New Labor Forum Highlights: Feb. 5th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

The neoliberal trend that has corporatized higher education and made of it a brave new world of contingent faculty labor has also given rise to an ethos of student consumerism that acts, on occasion, to persecute that precarious workforce. In the winter 2018 issue of New Labor Forum, Joshua Sperber takes a close look at the “Rate My Professor” website which functions in just this way, as a kind of online disciplinarian, intimidating and humiliating  an academic precariat whose intellectual labors are subject to the whims of the marketplace.

Unsurprisingly, these conditions have continued to spark nationwide campaigns among contingent faculty to raise wages, secure benefits, increase job security, and defend academic freedom. In an article for New Labor Forum and in a talk delivered at the Murphy Institute, Malini Cadambi Daniel assesses the prospects of this organizing to reconfigure campuses as neither ivory towers nor sweatshops.

We also draw your attention to the work of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at CUNY’s Hunter College. From April 15 – 17, 2018, the National Center will host a conference entitled Facing New Realities in Higher Education and the Professions, featuring David Weil and other prominent scholars.

Table of Contents

1. Making the Grade: Rating Professors- Joshua Sperber/ New Labor Forum
2. Contingent Faculty of the World Unite! Organizing to Resist the Corporatization of Higher Education-Malini Cadambi Daniel/ New Labor Forum
3. Lessons in Adjunct Organizing- Video of talk by Malini Cadambi Daniel/ The Murphy Institute
4. 45th Annual National Conference: Facing New Realities in Higher Education and the Professions, April 15-17, 2018-The National Center/ Hunter College, CUNY

Photo by Timothy Krause via flickr (CC-BY)

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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