Books: Non-Fiction

Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly

Book — Non-fiction. Edited by Peter Cole. 2021. 352 pages.
This biography details the life of Black IWW organizer Ben Fletcher and the working class struggles he took part in.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: African American, Labor, Organizing

In the early twentieth century, when many U.S. unions disgracefully excluded Black and Asian workers, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) warmly welcomed people of color, in keeping with their emphasis on class solidarity and their bold motto: “An Injury to One Is an Injury to All!” Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly tells the story of one of the greatest heroes of the American working class.

mug shot of Wobbly Ben Fletcher, book coverA brilliant union organizer and a humorous orator, Benjamin Fletcher (1890-1949) was a tremendously important and well-loved African American member of the IWW during its heyday. Fletcher helped found and lead Local 8 of the IWW’s Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union, unquestionably the most powerful interracial union of its era, taking a principled stand against all forms of xenophobia and exclusion.

For years, historian Peter Cole has carefully researched the life of Ben Fletcher, uncovering a stunning range of documents related to this extraordinary man. Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly includes a detailed biographical sketch of his life and history, reminiscences by fellow workers who knew him, a chronicle of the IWW’s impressive decade-long run on the Philadelphia waterfront in which Fletcher played a pivotal role, and nearly all of his known writings and speeches, thus giving Fletcher’s timeless voice another opportunity to inspire a new generation of workers, organizers, and agitators. This revised and expanded second edition includes new materials such as facsimile reprints of two extremely rare pamphlets on racism from the early twentieth century, more information on his prison years and personal life, additional recollections from friends, greater consideration of Fletcher from a global perspective, and much more. [Publisher’s description]

ISBN: 9781629638324 | PM Press

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