Principal at Common Forces, LLC, former president of TransAfrica Forum, longtime trade unionist and writer
The James Baldwin Lecture is co-presented by the UMass Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, the Department of History, and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts
From joining with First Nations peoples to contest European settlement to protesting the annexation of foreign territory, the political struggles waged by African Americans have fostered a vibrant Black Radical Tradition consistently opposed to U.S. imperialism. Those drawing on this tradition have not only protested U.S. invasions of other nations as a matter of principle, but also highlighted the interconnections between injustices waged abroad and oppression at home. In doing so, this tradition has often served as the basis for solidarity with those struggling against U.S. imperialism, a solidarity that has helped to inform radical movements here against patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalist exploitation.
Bill Fletcher Jr. has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staff person in the national AFL-CIO.
Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941; the co-author (with Fernando Gapasin) of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice; and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us!” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the web.
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The 2022-2023 Feinberg Series is exploring histories of U.S. imperialism and anti-imperialist resistance. It is presented by the UMass Amherst Department of History in collaboration with the Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy and in partnership with more than two dozen co-sponsors. The Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible thanks to the generosity of UMass Amherst history department alumnus Kenneth R. Feinberg ’67 and associates.
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