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Illinois Labor History Society


Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly - Peter Cole

Ben Fletcher0001.jpg
Ben Fletcher0001.jpg

Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly - Peter Cole


This book tells the story of one of the greatest heroes of the American working class movement. In the early 20th century, when many U.S. unions disgracefully excluded black and Asian workers, the Industrial Workers of the World warmly welcomed people of color, in keeping with the Wobbly emphasis on class solidarity and the motto: An Injury to One is an Injury to All! The great African American Wobbly organizer, Benjamin Fletcher (1890-1949), was noted for his brilliant organizing ability and imaginative on-the-job strategies, as well as for his courage, humor, and excellence as a soapbox orator. Not surprisingly, he was one of the IWW's most admired and best loved figures. Along with a biographical sketch of Fletcher, reminiscences by fellow workers who knew him well, and an impressive selection of Fletcher's own writings and speeches, Peter Cole also chronicles the ups and downs of the Philadelphia waterfront union in which Fletcher played such a leading role: Local 8 of the IWW's Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union. "The audacious radicalism and organizing genius of Ben Fletcher--his centrality in making the Philadelphia waterfront into the best example of Wobbly power and of interracial unionism in the U.S. in that precarious and exciting time--are wonderfully captured in this remarkable collection." --Dave Roediger "In a unionism noted for great organizers, Fellow Worker Fletcher was one of the greatest. Nearly a hundred years, Local 8's great achievements are still a model for us all."--Carlos Cortez "Ben Fletcher's all-out, front-door-to-back revolutionary industrial unionism exemplifies Wobbly-style workingclass solidarity at its creative best. This is the kind of no-compromise, multi-racial, direct-action organizing that labor needs today."--Franklin Rosemont

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