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Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Despite the connection between labor status and citizenship in Black history, little scholarly consideration has been given to the specific role of labor organizations in Black political participation. This research examines the impact of labor union membership on Black political activity in the immediate post-Civil Rights period, and argues that, similarly to churches and voluntary associations such as the NAACP, labor unions are an important vehicle for political mobilization of the Black community. Results show that Black union members were significantly more likely than non-members to participate in a range of electoral and non-electoral political activities, and to a greater degree, especially members with less education. Considering both demographic shifts in the labor movement and the recent upsurge in Black political activity vis a vis the Black Lives Matter movement, understanding the potential of labor unions as a site of political activism for the Black community---one that can address both political and economic issues---could be important to the growth and sustenance of both movements.


First Advisor

Jasmine Kerrissey

Included in

Sociology Commons