Clarence Taylor at the Brooklyn Book Festival

Clarence TaylorContinuing our feature on Columbia University Press authors, who will be at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday, we look at Clarence Taylor’s new book Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights, and the New York City Teachers Union.

Reds at the Blackboard showcases the rise of a unique type of unionism that began in the early twentieth century and would later dominate the organizational efforts behind civil rights, academic freedom, and the empowerment of blacks and Latinos. Through its affiliation with the Communist Party, the union pioneered what would later become social movement unionism, solidifying ties with labor groups, black and Latino parents, and civil rights organizations to acquire greater school and community resources. It also militantly fought to improve working conditions for teachers while championing broader social concerns. Taylor reveals the union’s early growth and the somewhat illegal attempts by the Board of Education to eradicate the group. He describes how the infamous Red Squad and other undercover agents worked with the board to bring down the union and how the union and its opponents wrestled with charges of anti-Semitism.

Clarence Taylor will a participant in the following panel at 1:00 at the festival:

From Wisconsin With Love

With labor unrest experiencing a major resurgence today, it’s important to understand the up and down struggle for workers’ rights over the past several decades. Three historians—Clarence Taylor (Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights and the NYC Teachers Union), William Adler (The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon) and Brian Purnell (Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry) – look at the American left and the role unions and workers’ movements have played in forcing social change here and across the country. Moderated by Steven Greenhouse (The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker).

Leave a Reply