Roundtable: Busting Up “Hard Hats”: How Race, Gender and Nationality Shaped the U.S. Working Class

Solicited by the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA).

Endorsed by the Women and Social Movements in the U.S., 1600–2000

Friday, April 3, 2020, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Gender; Labor and Working-Class; Race


This roundtable will feature historians whose scholarship directly challenges notions of the white, male working class, and instead offers a robust and rich historical discussion about the full complexity of the nation’s working people.

Session Participants

Chair: Lane Windham, Georgetown University
Lane Windham is Associate Director of Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor and co-director of WILL Empower (Women Innovating Labor Leadership). She is the author of Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), winner of the David Montgomery Award.

Panelist: Matthew Garcia, Dartmouth College
Matt Garcia is the Ralph and Richard Lazarus Professor of History, Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, and Human Relations Professor of Latin American, Latino & Caribbean Studies and History at Dartmouth College.  He previously taught at Arizona State University, Brown University, University of Oregon, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of A World of Its Own: Race, Labor and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970 that won the award for the best book from the Oral History Association in 2003. His book, From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement, won the Philip Taft Award for the Best Book in Labor History, 2013.  He is the co-editor of Food Across Borders with Melanie DuPuis and Don Mitchell published by Rutgers University Press in 2017.  Garcia served as the outreach director and co-primary investigator for the Bracero Archive Project, which received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant in 2008, and was the recipient of the Best Public History Award by the National Council for Public History in 2009-2010.  He is currently the chair of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth and will be a fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) in 2020.

Panelist: Colleen M. O'Neill, Utah State University
Colleen O'Neill is an associate professor of history at Utah State University and former coeditor of the Western Historical Quarterly. She received her PhD in history from Rutgers University and her publications include: Working the Navajo Way: Labor and Culture in the Twentieth Century and a coedited collection, Native Pathways: American Indian Culture and Economic Development in the Twentieth Century.  She has published articles in The Journal of American History, the New Mexico Historical Review, Labor History, and Ethnohistory and in edited collections, Indigenous Women and Work: From Labor to Activism, and Indians and Energy: Opportunities and Exploitation. Her current book project, Labor and Sovereignty, examines the changing meaning of wage work for American Indian communities in the twentieth century. 

Panelist: Erica Smiley, Jobs With Justice
Erica Smiley is co-executive director of Jobs With Justice, an organization created as a labor-community alliance platform in 1987, and which has developed into one of the movement’s most forward-thinking labor organizations.  Erica Smiley is co-author of a book about the future of collective bargaining that is under contract with Cornell University Press.  Prior to becoming co-director, she held many roles at Jobs With Justice, including organizing director, campaign director and senior field organizer for the southern region.Smiley is known for developing innovative strategies to expand collective bargaining power, including strategies that position working people to negotiate directly with the corporate actors that impact all aspects of their lives. She has authored several articles highlighting some of the organization’s most exciting developments in the New Labor Forum, Dissent Magazine, the Journal on Class, Race and 

Panelist: Joe William Trotter Jr., Carnegie Mellon University
Joe William Trotter, Jr., is Giant Eagle Professor of History and Social Justice and Founder and Director of the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of Black Milwaukee and Coal, Class, and Color and past President of the Labor and Working Class History Association. His most recent book is Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019).