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Danielle Phillips-Cunningham: Black Women’s History of All-Sided Labor Resistance

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Black Work Talk
Black Work Talk
Danielle Phillips-Cunningham: Black Women's History of All-Sided Labor Resistance

For more than a century, Black women’s organizations—whether explicitly working-class or not—have fed what Dr. Danielle T. Phillips-Cunningham calls “comprehensive labor resistance.” The Washing Society organized the Atlanta washerwomen’s strike of 1881. The National Council of Colored Women’s Clubs, with chapters in every state, organized around voting rights and unjust incarceration of Black women and men, as well as working women’s issues. They took the view that “when Black women’s lives improve, the whole community will rise,” Phillips-Cunningham said. Some were socialists with a global analysis of labor and capital, documenting labor injustices and quantifying the exploitation of Black workers. Some of their key activists started the National Association of Wage Earners in the 1920s, when the Women’s Trade Union League declined to organize Black women. In the interview with Black Work Talk co-hosts Sheri Davis and Steven Pitts, Phillips-Cunningham follows this deep organizing tradition up through the last decade of game-changing electoral work in Georgia.

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