Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class (Hardcover)
An award-winning historian illuminates the adversities and joys of the Black working class in America through a stunning narrative centered on her forebears.
There have been countless books, articles, and televised reports in recent years about the almost-mythic “white working class,” a tide of commentary that has obscured the labor, and the very existence, of everyday Black workers. In her brilliant corrective, Black Folk, acclaimed historian Blair Kelley restores the Black working class to the center of the American story. Spanning two hundred years—from Kelley’s earliest known ancestor, an enslaved blacksmith, to the essential workers of the Covid pandemic—her narrative focuses on the laundresses, Pullman porters, and domestic maids who established the Black working class as a political force. Excluded by whites, Black workers found community in unexpected places, from stoops on city streets to the backyards of washerwomen. These networks of resistance and joy sustained them and became the foundation of their organizing for better jobs, better pay, and equal rights. With the resurgence of labor activism in our own time, Black Folk presents a stirring history of our possible future.
About the Author
Blair Kelley is the director of the Center for the Study of the American South and codirector of the Southern Futures initiative at the University of North Carolina. Her first book, Right to Ride, won the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, and she received a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant to support her writing of Black Folk. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.