Imagining Racial Equality: Local 65s Union Photographers, Postwar Civil Rights, and the Power of the Real, 194055

Friday, January 4, 2019: 2:50 PM
Salon 7 (Palmer House Hilton)
Carol Quirke, SUNY Old Westbury
Local 65 United Warehouse Workers Union (1933-1987), which became District 65 United Auto Workers, had an unusual commitment to cultural activism, including photography. The union, with links to the Communist Party and the Popular Front, promoted photography with a camera club, and a member-edited newspaper New Voices, featuring photographs taken by members. The New York City distributive industry union began in 1933 on the Lower East Side, and it became the city’s second largest local. The union utilized photography to normalize the role of African American members within the union and to advance a civil rights and anti-racism agenda. This presentation explores how photographs included African Americans in the everyday life of the union, challenged race-based labor segmentation, supported community struggles, and defied racial norms in midcentury America.