This Black History Month, we at the AFL-CIO want to recognize that Black history is not a separate history; it’s not a single month. Black history is also America’s history, and it’s America’s labor history, too.
Black workers have always been a crucial part of the fight for justice in the labor movement, from helping to organize the meatpacking industry to the Pullman strike to the sanitation workers striking in Memphis, Tennessee.
So this month, we celebrate great labor leaders like A. Philip Randolph, Hattie Canty, Bayard Rustin, Arlene Holt Baker and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who won historic victories for Black working people.
But Black history is not just the past—it’s also the present. It’s also Black joy. It’s a celebration of culture and community. It’s coming together to fight for freedom and justice.
That’s why we’ll be celebrating a new generation of Black labor leaders and activists as well, featuring workers from across the country. And it’s why labor will always be on the front lines of fighting against racism in the workplace and systemic racism and exploitation in our economic system.
To that, our Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department has put together a list of recommended reading for the month—and we’re making it easy for you to support Black authors and to buy union-made. We’ve sourced each book and linked to some union bookstore choices where you can order it online.
- South to America - Imani Perry
- Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America - Keisha Blain
- Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman: Public Mystic and Freedom Fighter - Therese Taylor-Stinson
- You Mean It or You Don't: James Baldwin's Radical Challenge - Jamie McGhee and Adam Hollowell
- Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class - Blair Kelley Ph.D
- Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow - Henry Louis Gates Jr.
- To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. - Edited by Tommie Shelby and Brandon M. Terry
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration - Isabel Wilkerson
Please join the AFL-CIO in a month of lifting Black history and culture: reading, celebrating, scholarship, conversation and much more.