Race, Class, and Power in the Alabama Coalfields, 1908-21
University of Illinois Press, 2001 - 264 pages
In this lucid and supremely readable study, Brian Kelly challenges the prevailing notion that white workers were the main source of resistance to racial equality in the Jim Crow South.
Kelly explores the forces that brought the black and white miners of Birmingham, Alabama, together during the hard-fought strikes of 1908 and 1920. He examines the systematic efforts by the region's powerful industrialists to foment racial divisions as a means of splitting the workforce, preventing unionization, and holding wages to the lowest levels in the country. He also details the role played by Birmingham's small but influential black middle class, whose espousal of industrial accommodation outraged black miners and revealed significant tensions within the African-American community.
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