By Jonathan Rosenblum | There’s a whole truckload of things to celebrate in the new tentative agreements won by the United Auto Workers (UAW) at Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors (GM). The deals were wrested from the Big Three companies after 46 days of expanding strike action—what new UAW President Shawn Fain dubbed the “Stand Up Strike,” in which workers incrementally extended picket lines to more plants, slowing turning the vise tighter on the companies. By the time the last holdout, GM, settled this past weekend, close to 50,000 of the UAW’s 146,000 autoworker members had walked off the job.
By Jonathan Rosenblum | It’s not just actors, writers, and autoworkers powering this year’s strike wave in the United States. Healthcare workers, too, are flexing their collective muscles in greater numbers. And for good reason.
By Christian Coleman | When Latinx workers across the US came together for International Workers’ Day on May 1, 2006, their strike sent more than one message. As historian Paul Ortiz writes in An African American and Latinx History of the United States, they protested immigration restrictions that threatened their families, their livelihoods, and their dignity. The protested to pass national legislation for a living wage. Shutting down meat packing, garment manufacturing, port transportation, trucking and food services in many parts of the country was an act of resistance to neoliberalism, mass incarceration, militarism, and imperialism. Latinx workers from numerous cultures were all in.
By Charles Euchner | On August 28, the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, we celebrate the power of words. On this day, Martin Luther Dr. King, Jr. delivered his immortal “I Have a Dream” oration before 400,000 souls at the National Mall. Dr. King was joined by countless others whose words should be remembered for the ages. Fred Shuttlesworth charged the throng to “walk together, stand together, sing together, moan together, groan together.”
By Ben Mattlin | When you’ve grown up in a world not quite made for you or are forced into one from an accident or illness, and when you feel you should be able to do what everybody else seems to do, when you feel as if you’ve been inexplicably singled out for punishment, it can be utterly, achingly soul sinking. Worse still, it’s hard to shake. “Internalized ableism” is believing the prejudicial assumptions and expectations thrust on you by society, believing you’re inferior, undesirable, burdensome, don’t fit in, and/or in need of repairing or healing or fixing or curing.
A Q&A with Annelise Orleck | It felt right, and urgent, to return to the story of “Storming Caesars Palace” in these times, precisely because this political moment feels both so different and so similar to the time when the book was first published in 2005. Back then, our country was still living in the shadow of 9/11 and the militarist backlash that followed.
By Jonathan Rosenblum | More than 1 million US workers are employed at Amazon today—the majority at its vast network of more than 1,300 warehouses and logistics centers, with tens of thousands in tech centers around the country. That’s more workers than UPS and FedEx combined, more than the entire US auto manufacturing industry. Another 600,000 work internationally for the company.
By Brandon Johnson | In 2012 the CTU went on strike for the first time in twenty-five years. We prepared our members to take this step by, first, making the case that we could better protect our profession by defending public education and our children. Second, we put forward a real plan for what schools needed to look like, and we effectively identified those people, including the mayor, who stood in the way. Finally, we began to raise awareness of the inequities that many people said couldn’t be fixed but we refused to accept. As a result, our members realized that we needed to withhold our labor in order to beat back the mayor’s proposal that would hurt both teachers and students.
By Brandon Johnson | The moment you sign up to become a teacher in the Chicago public school system you become an advocate, because you’re always searching for opportunities to meet the needs of your students. The system often falls short—from classroom materials, to reading and math support, to social and emotional development. Most schools don’t have social workers and counselors, for example, even though there is an overwhelming need for them.
By Kristen Joiner | “So, you’ve been a feminist and worked in human rights your whole career?” Judy Heumann asked me the first time we met to discuss the possibility of writing her memoir. “Right.” “And you never knew disability was a civil rights issue?” Since I’d already owned up to this, I nodded again. “So, what makes you think you can write my story?”
By Gayatri Patnaik and Christian Coleman | In her compelling Boston Globe article “Celebrating Black History Month as Black History Is Being Erased,” Renée Graham writes that Black History Month this year has a specific purpose and burden, “and that burden is not for Black people to bear alone.” The challenge, Graham notes, “is to save this crucial American history from being eroded book by book, law by law, and state by state.” We couldn’t agree more.
By Martin Luther King, Jr. | This, as you know, is what has traditionally been known in the Christian church as Palm Sunday. And ordinarily the preacher is expected to preach a sermon on the Lordship or the Kingship of Christ—the triumphal entry, or something that relates to this great event as Jesus entered Jerusalem, for it was after this that Jesus was crucified. And I remember, the other day, at about seven or eight days ago, standing on the Mount of Olives and looking across just a few feet and noticing that gate that still stands there in Jerusalem, and through which Christ passed into Jerusalem, into the old city.
By Edward McClelland | The heat wave begins on the Great Plains, in the Dust Bowl, that dead, dry land whose barren fields have transformed it into a furnace. The summer of 1936 is the hottest anyone can remember. After killing the meager yield of crops in the farm states, the dome of heat spreads north and east, smothering the Great Lakes. In the second week of July, every afternoon, workers preparing for second shift at the General Motors plants in Flint, Michigan, look out the kitchen windows of their company-built Cape Cods and slope-roofed bungalows, at the thermometers bolted to the walls.
You don’t know Rosa Parks. Not really. Not the way you know about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Unless you have read Jeanne Theoharis’s NAACP Image Award-winning “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” you are familiar with Parks’s Cliff Notes claim to civil rights fame taught in school and not much else. Until Theoharis’s biography was published in 2013, there was no serious footnote or book about her. Let that sink in. Six decades of activism, and not a single book! And more recently, there hadn’t been a feature documentary made about her either. Until now.
Who’s your favorite people’s historian, and why is it Howard Zinn? He’s ours, too, and today, August 24, he would have turned one hundred. He wore many hats: social activist, professor, author, and playwright. He meant so much to us here at Beacon Press. Going through the books we published of his, including his memoir, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” we get a little misty eyed. To celebrate his hundredth birthday, we pulled some beloved quotes that showcase his life’s worth of wisdom and insights on hope, the politics of writing history, the power of social movements, nonviolence, class, race, education, and much more.
Nobody wanted long COVID on our collective pandemic Bingo card, but there it is. In her “The Daily Show” interview, OG disability rights badass Judy Heumann told Trevor Noah that the likelihood of his acquiring a disability, temporary or permanent, was statistically high. He took her statement as a threat in jest, but there’s truth in that for us.
It’s flying graduation caps season! We’re not post-pandemic, but graduates are embarking on a world stage that looks different from what it was two or three years ago. Some of those differences are alarming.
By Tourmaline | I was a preteen when the first edition of “Transgender Warriors”—the foundational text by the late, great Leslie Feinberg—was published in 1996. It came into the world at a pivotal time for me, providing the life-changing context that would help me to understand who I was and who came before me. Context that, before this book, could only be found scattered in disparate places, passed down in whispers and folklore, or translated and excavated from bigoted depictions of historical trans figures deemed deviant by the status quo.
A Q&A with Jonathan Rosenblum | That’s a really good question, Matt. To the examples you gave, I would also add the fight to eliminate student debt. The Joe Biden administration is resuming mandatory debt payments for millions of workers in this country, which is going to be economically devastating. The Biden administration has also ended the eviction moratorium protecting people from eviction, millions and millions of working class people are now in jeopardy of losing their homes.
A Q&A with Jonathan Rosenblum | I’m really excited to be in this discussion with Canadian comrades about what’s going on here in the States and the prospects for organizing in the period ahead. I actually started out many decades ago as a rank-and-file union member in the newspaper industry, as a member of the International Typographical Union, which now I think is part of the Teamsters.