Black Female Freedom Fighters

Black Female Freedom Fighters

Let’s honor some of the courageous women who fought for civil rights!

Black Female Freedom Fighters

Black Female Freedom Fighters

In honor of MLK Day, I wanted to write about the fight for civil rights and equality. But as so many things in history, I feel there is a lack of acknowledgement for some of the amazing women who contributed to this fight. So today, let’s shine a light on some amazing Black Female Freedom Fighters!


Septima Clark

Septima Clark was a public school teacher in South Carolina for thirty years. She was forced to relinquish her position in 1956 when she refused to renounce her involvement with the NAACP.

Believing literacy to be the key to political empowerment, she went on to set up workshops to teach others basic literacy skills, the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens and how to fill out voter registration forms.

She continued teaching and advocating for civil responsibilities for the rest of her life. She taught and developed curriculum at key places like the Highlander Folk School for social advocacy, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the American Field Service.

In 1975, she was elected to the South Carolina School Board. She received a letter of apology the following year from the South Carolina governor and got her pension reinstated.

In 1979, she was recognized by President Jimmy Carter and given a Living Legacy Award and published an autobiography about her involvement and journey with the Civil Rights Movement. You can check it out below!


Amelia Boynton Robinson

Amelia Boynton Robinson was an activist leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. She was a key figure in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. She was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Medal in 1990.

Boynton began her activism in 1934 when she registered to vote, a difficult task in Alabama at the time. A few years later she wrote a play called Through the Years, that recounted her father’s half-brother’s story. He had been a former slave who was elected to Congress during the Reconstruction Era.

In 1958, her son was arrested for attempting to buy food from a white food counter in a bus terminal. He was found guilty of a misdemeanor in the state court and fined. A current law student at Howard University, he appealed the decision and unfortunately lost until the case (Boynton vs. Virginia) eventually went to the Supreme Court and was reversed by Thurgood Marshall.

In 1964 Boynton ran for Congress hoping to encourage black registration and voting. She was the first female African American to run for office in Alabama and the first woman of any race to run on the Democratic Party ticket for the state. She received 10% of the vote.

In 1965 Boynton began working with Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders to plan demonstrations for voting and civil rights. She helped organize a march to Montgomery which took place on March 7th, 1965. The event became known as Bloody Sunday when police stopped and beat the demonstrators. Boynton was beaten unconscious, a photo of her lying on Edmund Pettus Bridge went around the world and is still one of the most famous photographs from the march today.

To learn more about Boynton read one of the books below- including her own Bridge Across Jordon!


Nine More Amazing Black Female Freedom Fighters

Are you familiar with Leah Chase or Dr. June Jackson Christmas? What about Aileen Hernandez or Diane Nash? Sadly, they along with Judy Richardson, Kathleen Cleaver, Gay McDougall, Gloria Richardson, and Myrlie Evers have been mostly left out of the history books. Until now!

Nominated for a 50th NAACP IMAGE Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author, Lighting the Fires of Freedom is a MUST Read to learn more about overlooked women from the Civil Rights Movement.

Janet Dewart Bell put together these women’s stories from collections of oral narratives and photographs. Each of these women answered the call to fight for freedom with passion, courage, and persistence.

If you’re interested in getting a close look at the women who were on the front lines during this movement- you need to read Bell’s book!


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Who was the first novel writer? Learn the History of Novels!

Do you know the history of novels? Who was the first novel writer? Read here to find out!

Who was the first novel writer? The history of novels

The History of Novels

Are you familiar with the background or history of novels? Where did novels come from? Who was the first novel writer? 

In the 21st century, where novels are considered the most popular form of entertainment, it’s impossible to imagine novels not being around. But prior to the eighteenth century, novels didn’t exist. Prior to novels, authors retold stories that were already well known. And the genre of fiction was just reinventing a story previously told. For example, an author might reuse characters such as Hercules or Adam and Eve and tell a new rendition of their story. 

Daniel DeFoe was the first author documented to break this tradition. DeFoe pulled away from retelling stories and invented his own new protagonists, experiencing their own trials, tribulations and lives. The first documented published work classified as a novel was DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe published in 1719. The novel is about a man, Crusoe, who was shipwrecked on an island and the adventures he experienced.

At first, critics did not know what to make of this new fictional publication. Debate followed as other authors jumped to copy.  What defined this new genre? An imaginative recreation of reality? A historical or scary conveyor of the truth? A harmless amusement? These were all potential definitions of a novel in the eighteenth century.

Despite the varying perspectives and even potential contradictions, there were some key components that emerged in the new fictional pieces. 1. Writers were more likely to show the life of the present day vs life from the past. 2. Characters were made to be believable and relatable.

Thus the genre of the novel was born. 

As we all know, novels are now the most popular form of published genres. There is just something about picking up a story to escape from reality. And one thing that never ceases to amaze me is just when you think every story has already been told and there’s nothing new left out there, some new author finds a way to completely prove that wrong. Just goes to show there really is no limit to the power of imagination!

Happy Reading Everyone!

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Agatha Christie Books

Why Agatha Christie Books Make Her the Queen of Mystery!

Agatha Christie- the Queen and Legend!

About Agatha Christie and Her Books

Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, these are some of the most classic mysteries ever written. And who hasn’t heard of the famous Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple? Agatha Christie books are legendary, as is the author herself. Is that what has made her pop up so much again now in new recent writings? Let’s explore why Agatha Christie is the Queen of Mystery.

Born on September 15th in 1890, Agatha Christie became and remains the best-selling novelist of all time. She was a prolific writer, writing 66 detective novels, 14 short story collections, and the world’s longest running play of all time, The Mousetrap

Why Agatha Christie is the Queen of Mystery

Agatha Christie- The Early Years

Agatha Christie had a difficult start in life. She had an unorthodox upbringing where she was homeschooled and told she was not allowed to learn to read until she was at least eight years old. She taught herself at the age of five instead. Her father died when she was eleven and she and her mother were left with major financial problems. They were forced to leave their house relying on the hospitality of friends until eventually traveling to Egypt for Agatha’s “economized” coming out season.

Although Agatha received many marriage proposals in Egypt, it was not until she met a young pilot, Archie Christie, that she first fell in love. It was a whirlwind affair that ended in a wartime marriage.

Agatha Christie Books

It was during the war that Agatha took to writing detective stories. She used her newfound experience in poisons (she worked at a hospital dispensary during the war) as a basis for the plot of her debut novel,The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The murderer’s use of poisons in the book was so accurate that she received an unusual honorable tribute- a review in The Pharmaceutical Journal. 

Despite Agatha’s newfound success, her personal life was in shambles. Her marriage was falling apart, and there were rumors of a nervous breakdown. After a mysterious disappearance, Agatha decided it was time to start anew. She fulfilled a lifelong goal of traveling on the Orient Express, and spent time on an archeological dig in Baghdad. It was there she met a young archeologist in training, Max Mallowan, who became her second husband. 

In the years that followed, Agatha finally found happiness. She and her husband divided their time between England and digs around the world. She devoted her time to writing, enjoying success until her death in 1976.


Agatha Christie Books To Read List

And Then There Were None


“If you’re one of the few who haven’t experienced the genius of Agatha Christie, this novel is a stellar starting point.” — DAVID BALDACCI, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

An exclusive authorized edition of the most famous and beloved stories from the Queen of Mystery.

Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to an isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island, they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…

Which among them is the killer, and will any of them survive?

“Agatha Christie is the gateway drug to crime fiction both for readers and for writers. . . .  Just one book is never enough.” — VAL MCDERMID, Internationally Bestselling Author.

Agatha Christie Books

Agatha Christie Books
Why Agatha Christie is the Queen of Mystery

Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery 

The exclusive authorized edition of the most widely read mystery of all time. Now a major motion picture directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. 

“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies before the murderer decides to strike again.

This edition includes a photo insert of images from the film. 


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot)

One of Agatha Christie’s most famous novels, featuring her beloved detective Hercule Poirot—and her most surprising twist.

The story that made Agatha Christie famous ends with one of her most dramatic twists. The villagers of King’s Abbot are shocked when a wealthy local widow commits suicide, and the very next day her fiancé, Roger Ackroyd, is stabbed to death. Dr. James Sheppard, the local physician, discovers the body of his friend and narrates the ensuing hunt for the killer. All the guests and staff at Ackroyd’s country house seem to have solid alibis—except for his missing stepson. But as the authorities home in on their most obvious suspect, the recently retired detective Hercule Poirot unexpectedly turns up and joins the fray. Dr. Sheppard gamely assists the legendary Poirot as he untangles one of the most fiendish mysteries in Christie’s extensive oeuvre.


Agatha Christie Books
Why Agatha Christie is the Queen of Mystery

The A. B. C. Murders: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

In this official authorized edition from the Queen of Mystery, Hercule Poirot sets out on the trail of a serial killer.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet and the whole country is in a state of panic.

A is for Mrs. Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, and C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. With each murder, the killer is getting more confident—but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first and fatal mistake.

FYI: This was the first novel ever to follow the trail of a serial killer in a “whodunnit” mystery.


Sleeping Murder

In this exclusive authorized edition from the Queen of Mystery, the indomitable Miss Marple turns ghost hunter and uncovers shocking evidence of a perfect crime.

Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernize the house, she only succeeded in dredging up its past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs.

In fear, Gwenda turned to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, they were to solve a “perfect” crime committed many years before.


More Recent books about Agatha Christie-

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER!

AN AMAZON BEST BOOK OF 2021!

“A stunning story… The ending is ingenious, and it’s possible that Benedict has brought to life the most plausible explanation for why Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926.”―The Washington Post.

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room returns with a thrilling reconstruction of one of the most notorious events in literary history: Agatha Christie’s mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926.

In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues are some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car―strange for a frigid night. Her World War I veteran husband and her daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.

The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark historical fiction exploration into the shadows of the past, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such murky historical mysteries.

What is real, and what is mystery? What role did her unfaithful husband play, and what was he not telling investigators?

Agatha Christie novels have withstood the test of time due in no small part to Christie’s masterful storytelling and clever mind that may never be matched, but Agatha Christie’s untold history offers perhaps her greatest mystery of all.

Fans of The Secrets We Kept, The Lions of Fifth Avenue, and The Alice Network will enjoy this riveting saga of literary history, suspense, and love gone wrong.


The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

Why would the world’s most famous mystery writer disappear for eleven days? What makes a woman desperate enough to destroy another woman’s marriage? How deeply can a person crave revenge?

“Sizzles from its first sentence.” – The Wall Street Journal

A Reese’s Book Club Pick

In 1925, Miss Nan O’Dea infiltrated the wealthy, rarefied world of author Agatha Christie and her husband, Archie. In every way, she became a part of their life––first, both Christies. Then, just Archie. Soon, Nan became Archie’s mistress, luring him away from his devoted wife, desperate to marry him. Nan’s plot didn’t begin the day she met Archie and Agatha.

It began decades before, in Ireland, when Nan was a young girl. She and the man she loved were a star-crossed couple who were destined to be together––until the Great War, a pandemic, and shameful secrets tore them apart. Then acts of unspeakable cruelty kept them separated.

What drives someone to murder? What will someone do in the name of love? What kind of crime can someone never forgive? Nina de Gramont’s brilliant, unforgettable novel explores these questions and more.


Hope you enjoy this list of Agatha Christie Books! For more of my book lists, check out the Book List page here!

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Labor Day Books

Looking for Labor Day Books?

Our Workplace History and Potential Future

Labor Day Books

Labor Day Books to Read

The first Labor Day Parade took place in NYC on September 5th, 1882. It was a demonstration for worker’s rights. Twelve years later, Labor Day was signed into a law as a national holiday to celebrate and honor the working class by giving them a day off.

Sadly, we still have a long way to go in regards to truly celebrating and honoring the workers of our country. We’re continuing to widen the wage gap, are facing more controversy and debate than ever between political opinions, and we’re experiencing one of the largest face-offs between workers and employers in our history.

So, where does that leave us for the future? Will American workplaces ever look the same again? Will we ever again have booming office buildings and daily commutes? Or has this been the reckoning that was needed after years of an imbalance in American working culture?

In honor of this year’s Labor Day- I wanted to provide you with a book list of some Labor Day books that will hopefully make you think and force some conversation about these issues and examine not only our present-day working issues, but also those from our past. You might find many systemic issues that have been present for a while. And most importantly, if this is our time of reckoning, we might need to look deeper to truly fix what is broken.

I want to add, it has been brought to my attention that some might question one or two of the books on the list. I want to explain that I chose these books not necessarily because I believe they will individually provide a solution, but because they will hopefully open a dialogue. One of the biggest problems facing us today is our distrust of the “other side”. We have become so polarized and defensive, we’ve forgotten how to listen and learn. But looking at all sides and beliefs and being open to why a solution is being offered is important to finding compromise. As Walter Cronkite once said, “In seeking truth you have to get both sides of the story.”

With that thought in mind, I’d love to continue to add to this list. If you have other resources or books you think I should add, please add them to the comments or feel free to reach out.

Labor Day Books To Read List


The Great Resignation: Why Millions are Leaving Their Jobs and Who Will Win the Battle for Talent by Russ Hill and Jared Jones

The era of adult daycare is over. The way we work has changed permanently. Leaders who fail to adapt will lose their best people. It’s why millions are leaving their jobs!

“We’ve had every leader in our organization read The Great Resignation. Employees are demanding more flexibility and other changes in how we lead. We must adapt or risk losing our best people.” – John Dawson

You can’t send 70% of the global workforce home for an extended period of time and not expect their priorities to shift. Add to that the discontent that’s been growing in most companies for years and you can start to see why there’s so much movement in the job market.

Labor Day Books

In The Great Resignation, Russ Hill and Jared Jones show how two trends have been building for years and how the pandemic accelerated both of them. Hill and Jones share data from Microsoft, Deloitte, McKinssey, LinkedIn, and Gallup alongside stories from their consulting and coaching clients that include executives at some of the world’s largest companies like Amazon, Cigna, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, Fox, Kohler, and many others.

The Great Resignation is a casual, insightful read that gives you actionable ideas you can implement with your team immediately. Whether you’re a seasoned senior executive of a Fortune 50 company or a new leader seeking to strengthen your ability to lead in today’s competitive environment you’ll find tons of value in The Great Resignation.


Wage Theft by Kim Bobo

“This book will give you an entirely new perspective on work in America.” ―Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
 
In what has been described as “the crime wave no one talks about,” billions of dollars’ worth of wages are stolen from millions of workers in the United States every year―a grand theft that exceeds every other larceny category. Even the Economic Policy Foundation, a business-funded think tank, has estimated that companies annually steal an incredible $19 billion in unpaid overtime. The scope of these abuses is staggering, but activists, unions, and policymakers―along with everyday Americans in congregations and towns across the country―have begun to take notice.
 
While the first edition of Wage Theft In America documented the scope of the problem, this new edition adds the latest research on wage theft and tells what community, religious, and labor activists are now doing to address the crisis―from passing state and local wage-theft bills to establishing mayoral task forces and tapping agencies that help low-wage workers in spotting wage theft.
 
Citing hard-hitting statistics and heartbreaking first-person accounts of exploitation at the hands of employers, this updated edition of Wage Theft In America offers concrete solutions and a roadmap for putting an end to this insidious practice.


Stayin’ Alive The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class by Jefferson Cowie

A wide-ranging cultural and political history that will forever redefine a misunderstood decade, Stayin’ Alive is prize-winning historian Jefferson Cowie’s remarkable account of how working-class America hit the rocks in the political and economic upheavals of the 1970s. In this edgy and incisive book―part political intrigue, part labor history, with large doses of American music, film and television lore―Cowie, with “an ear for the power and poetry of vernacular speech” (Cleveland Plain Dealer), reveals America’s fascinating path from rising incomes and optimism of the New Deal to the widening economic inequalities and dampened expectations of the present.

Winner of the 2011 Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians for the Best Book on American History

Winner of the 2011 Merle Curti Prize from the Organization of American Historians for the Best Book in American Social History

Winner of the 2011 Labor History Best Book Prize

Winner of the 2011 Best Book Award from the United Association for Labor Education


Labor Day Books
Labor Day Books

We Own the Future: Democratic Socialism- American Style by Kate Aronoff

A stunningly original and timely collection that makes the case for “socialism, American style”

It’s a strange day when a New York Times conservative columnist is forced to admit that the left is winning, but as David Brooks wrote recently, “the American left is on the cusp of a great victory.” Among Americans under thirty, 43 percent had a favorable view of socialism, while only 32 percent had a favorable view of capitalism. Not since the Great Depression have so many Americans questioned the fundamental tenets of capitalism and expressed openness to a socialist alternative.

We Own the Future: Democratic Socialism—American Style offers a road map to making this alternative a reality, giving readers a practical vision of a future that is more democratic, egalitarian, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable. The book includes a crash course in the history and practice of democratic socialism, a vivid picture of what democratic socialism in America might look like in practice, and compelling proposals for how to get there from the age of Trump and beyond.

With contributions from some of the nation’s leading political activists and analysts, We Own the Future articulates a clear and uncompromising view from the left—a perfectly timed book that will appeal to a wide audience hungry for change.


Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor by Kim Kelly

“Kelly unearths the stories of the people- farm laborers, domestic workers, factory employees—behind some of the labor movement’s biggest successes.” —The New York Times

A revelatory and inclusive history of the American labor movement, from independent journalist and Teen Vogue labor columnist Kim Kelly.

Freed Black women organizing for protection in the Reconstruction-era South. Jewish immigrant garment workers braving deadly conditions for a sliver of independence. Asian American fieldworkers rejecting government-sanctioned indentured servitude across the Pacific. Incarcerated workers advocating for basic human rights and fair wages. The queer Black labor leader who helped orchestrate America’s civil rights movement. These are only some of the working-class heroes who propelled American labor’s relentless push for fairness and equal protection under the law.

The names and faces of countless silenced, misrepresented, or forgotten leaders have been erased by time as a privileged few decide which stories get cut from the final copy: those of women, people of color, LGBTQIA people, disabled people, sex workers, prisoners, and the poor. In this assiduously researched work of journalism, Teen Vogue columnist and independent labor reporter Kim Kelly excavates that history and shows how the rights the American worker has today—the forty-hour workweek, workplace-safety standards, restrictions on child labor, protection from harassment and discrimination on the job—were earned with literal blood, sweat, and tears.

Fight Like Hell comes at a time of economic reckoning in America. From Amazon’s warehouses to Starbucks cafes, Appalachian coal mines to the sex workers of Portland’s Stripper Strike, interest in organized labor is at a fever pitch not seen since the early 1960s.

Inspirational, intersectional, and full of crucial lessons from the past, Fight Like Hell shows what is possible when the working class demands the dignity it has always deserved.


$2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
The story of a kind of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don’t even think exists—from a leading national poverty expert who “defies convention.” (The New York Times)
Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no income if she didn’t donate plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter, Brianna, in Chicago, often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends.
After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before—households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, was one and a half million households, including about three million children. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor?
Through this book’s eye-opening analysis and many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. $2.00 a Day delivers provocative ideas to our national debate on income inequality.
“Powerful . . . Presents a deeply moving human face that brings the stunning numbers to life. It is an explosive book . . . The stories will make you angry and break your heart.”—American Prospect
“Harrowing . . . [An] important and heart-rending book, in the tradition of Michael Harrington’s The Other America.”—Los Angeles Times


In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers by Bernice Yeung

“A timely, intensely intimate, and relevant exposé.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Pulitzer Prize finalist’s powerful examination of the hidden stories of workers overlooked by #MeToo

Apple orchards in bucolic Washington State. Office parks in Southern California under cover of night. The home of an elderly man in Miami. These are some of the workplaces where women have suffered brutal sexual assaults and shocking harassment at the hands of their employers, often with little or no official recourse. In this heartrending but ultimately inspiring tale, investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist Bernice Yeung exposes the epidemic of sexual violence levied against the low-wage workers largely overlooked by #MeToo, and charts their quest for justice.

Labor Day Books

In a Day’s Work reveals the underbelly of hidden economies teeming with employers who are in the practice of taking advantage of immigrant women. But it also tells a timely story of resistance, introducing a group of courageous allies who challenge the status quo of violations alongside aggrieved workers―and win.


Hope you enjoy this list of Labor Day Books! For more of my book lists check out the Book List page here!

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Labor Unions

What Do You Know About Labor Unions?

The ILGWU- it was so much more than labor protections…

Labor Unions

Labor Unions in US History

I’m up in New York this week visiting family for two weeks. Yesterday, I got to enjoy a fantastic day in the city with my sister. We visited the Tenement Museum to start research for my next book and got to mozey around the Lower East Side. I even got to visit the Brown Building (aka the site of the Triangle Fire.) It was bittersweet to see it again after spending so much time writing about it these past few years.

One thing that really struck me as I went on this past tour and learned about the next phase of history for immigrants on the Lower East Side, was the rising role the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union played for workers and their families.

When we think of labor unions. we think of the role they play in protecting workers’ rights. Negotiating fair pay and hours, protections etc. However, the ILGWU did FAR more than that.

One thing to remember was the Lower East Side of Manhattan was the Garment District. So, a large majority of residents had someone in their family working in a garment factory and therefore an affiliation with the union.

In the aftermath of the Garment Worker’s Strike and the Triangle fire in 1911 the union strengthened substantially. For one, it grew in its reach across other urban areas across the country. And as its reach and membership numbers grew, the union was able to focus on improving other quality of life issues for members and their families.

In 1913 they opened the first Union Health Center in NYC. They soon opened additional centers in other cities across the county and eventually offered mobile health centers to workers in smaller towns and rural areas. At the centers they offered dental care, check ups, and prescriptions to workers and their families.

By 1915 the union began to offer educational opportunities to its members. They offered coursework ranging from English classes to labor history classes. They partnered with high schools and colleges to offer incentives for members to earn credits and diplomas and eventually even offered scholarships for college education.

By 1919, there were even vacation getaways available in the Poconos and Catskills for families to escape busy city life.

These safety net offerings were integral to survival for many of these families. This was especially evident during the Depression era where many men were unable to find jobs and women stepped up to provide the bread-winning role and support for the family. 

It’s always interesting to me to look back in history and see how a story changed. Seeing what labor unions offered and how accepting people were of these offerings, it is difficult to imagine how far in opinion and reputation the pendulum could swing in its depiction of labor unions. How and when did that occur? And why? Fear? Slander?

It makes you wonder how fifty years from now our current times will be depicted. ..

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U.S. Immigration History

What Do You Know About U.S. Immigration History?

U.S. Immigration History

Are You Aware of our TRUE U.S. Immigration History?

If you’ve gotten a copy of The Girl From Saint Petersburg, you’ve seen I included Emma Lazarus’s famous poem, The New Colossus, in the beginning. I’ve always been intrigued by the poem. It’s welcoming, yet imposing nature. Just like the Statue itself. It’s also struck me how early the country’s split personality nature began when it comes to our acceptance of immigrants on our shores.

As a nation- most of us think of the poem’s famous lines when we think of U.S. immigration history. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We’re the Melting Pot nation, right? We had open shores and accepted everyone. Not exactly.

Our nation’s complicated welcoming/exclusionary stances go far further back than many of us realize. Immigration exclusionary proclamations began as far back as 1790. That is when Congress passed the first law dictating that only free white people of “good character” living in the U.S. for two years or longer could apply for citizenship.

The years following kept immigration in the forefront as Europeans continued to arrive. By 1849, America’s first anti-immigrant political party was formed. They drummed up support for the states to pass their own anti-immigration laws. But the Supreme Court overturned them in 1875, declaring that only the federal government could make and enforce immigration laws.

In 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. This was the first in U.S. immigration history to place broad restrictions on a certain group. It was far from the last. By 1891, it was expanded to exclude polygamists, people convicted of certain crimes, and the sick and diseased. This was also when the Federal Office of Immigration was created along with a corps of immigration inspectors stationed at all ports of entry.

Xenophobia reached new heights at the start of the World Wars. The Immigration Act of 1917 established a literacy requirement for all immigrants and halted almost all immigration from Asian countries completely.

By May of 1924, the U.S. established a new nationality quota system. The law heavily favored Northern and Western European countries with immigrants from Great Britain, Ireland and Germany accounting for 70% of the issued visas. This was also when U.S. Border Patrol was established to crack down on illegal immigrants crossing the borders from Mexico and Canada.

The quota system remained in place until 1965 when Lyndon Johnson overturned it with a new seven-category preference system. He called the old quota system “unAmerican,” and said the new bill would correct a “cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American nation.”

My last installment of Ruth’s story will take place during the time of this quota system. As I’ve begun research for it, my stomach has turned at the horrors we allowed in refusing refugees from Holocaust concentration camps etc.

I’m appreciative of Johnson’s apology, but I find myself still wondering at the complexities of our system. Are we embracing the Statue’s message? Will we ever have an immigration system that is truly equitable and fair? And most importantly, will we ever have an agreed upon definition of what it means to be an American?

Interested in more of Joyana’s articles on history? Click here to read more!