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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Trevor Griffey

Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry book cover
Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry (Cornell University Press, 2010)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - 4:00pm
Communications 202

Trevor Griffey, the book’s co-editor, will describe a previously overlooked but important part of Black Power  movement history: how the demand for black community control of the construction industry—especially government War on Poverty and postrebellion urban reconstruction projects— became central to community organizing for black economic self-determination and political autonomy in the 1960s. Politicians responded to Black Power protests at federal construction projects by creating modern affirmative action and minority set-aside programs in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but these programs relied on voluntary compliance by contractors and unions, government enforcement was inadequate, and they were not connected to jobs programs. Forty years later, the struggle to have construction jobs serve as a pathway out of poverty for inner-city residents remains an unfinished part of the struggle for racial justice and labor union reform in the United States.

Trevor Griffey is a doctoral candidate specializing in US History and Project Coordinator of the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project. As part of his work for the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project, Griffey conducted nearly fifty oral history interviews; served as the sole author and curator of its special sections on the history of the Ku Klux Klan in Washington State in the 1920s, the history of Seattle’s Asian American movement, and the history of the United Construction Workers Association; and facilitated the acquisition of the Seattle Chapter of the NAACP’s papers by the UW Library’s Special Collections.

The event is co-sponsored by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies and the Simpson Center for the Humanities.