The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Liberation Film Series presents a free screening of Finally Got the News, followed by the discussion, Fighting Racism in the Labor Movement, with General Gordon Baker, Jr. and Dr. John H. Bracey, in the Museum's General Motors Theater.
Finally Got the News is a forceful, unique documentary that reveals activities of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers inside and outside the auto factories of Detroit. Through interviews with members of the movement, footage shot in the auto plants, and footage of leafleting and picketing actions, the film documents their efforts to build an independent black labor organization that would respond to worker's problems, such as the assembly line speed-up and inadequate wages faced by both black and white workers in the industry.
“Offers black workers’ views of working conditions inside Detroit’s auto factories, focusing on the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and their efforts to build an independent black labor organization. Beginning with a historical montage, from the early days of slavery through the subsequent growth and organization of the working class, the film examines the crucial role of the black worker in the American economy.”
A classic and legendary film and its new edition by Icarus Films, is absolutely welcome and fantastic news. ...It is a very valuable and interesting piece of American urban history, and thus this film would be very interesting to watch not only for those interested in the United States and race relations, but also for students of urban studies. It documents a pivotal moment in the history of American cities and given the fact that many places in the world, and especially in the global south, have experienced an industrial revolution much greater in scale than the one in Europe and North America a century ago, it is not as distant from the problem we face in contemporary as one may think at first glance."
—Anthropology Review Database, December 2011
"[The League of Revolutionary Black Workers]... was one of the most important radical movements of our century - a movement led by black revolutionaries whose vision of emancipation for all is sorely needed today."
—Professor Robin D.G. Kelley, New York University
2012 Reel Work Labor Film Festival
2010 Berlin Documentary Forum
2009 Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art
2008 The Brecht Forum in New York
2006 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
A Film by Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman and Peter Gessner ; Produced in Association with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers; Running Time: 55 Minutes
Featured Panelists for Fighting Racism in the Labor Movement and Q&A
General Gordon Baker, Jr. is a national and internationally known labor leader who has been called the most important 21st century American revolutionary. He was a leader of the Detroit wildcat strikes in the 1960s, a founder of the legendary League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM), and the first American to refuse induction to fight in Vietnam. His case was a landmark in draft resistance, symbolizing the beginning of the anti-war movement.
In the book, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying - about the worker revolts of that era - General Baker is cited as the "soul of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM)." DRUM was the driving force behind the wildcat strikes. The ideas emanating from that period inspired Black autoworkers throughout America.
General Baker's life-long commitment to the working class makes him one of the country's most knowledgeable spokespersons for a new society where workers will finally receive the fruits of their labor. An autoworker for 30 years, Baker remains a champion of the unemployed and unorganized workers.
His other accomplishments include running in a Michigan state-wide campaign for political office; directing a state-wide campaign to support Detroit's homeless tent city, and being part of the North American delegation to the 7th Pan-African Congress in Uganda. Baker has also addressed many other national and international gatherings, including Convener of the 1993 conference in Detroit commemorating Malcolm X and celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. General Baker, Jr. has been the featured speaker at MIT, University of Illinois – Chicago, Cleveland State University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, State University of New York at Binghamton, Carnegie Mellon Institute; and Howard University. Today, he is chair of the Steering Committee of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America: http://rallycomrades.lrna.org/
Dr. John H. Bracey, Jr. has taught in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 1972 and is currently Department Chair and Distinguished Professor of History. His major interests are in African American social history, radical ideologies and movements, and the history of African American Women; more recently his interests have focused on the interactions between Native Americans and African Americans and Afro-Latinos in the United States. He previously taught Afro-American history at Northern Illinois University and at the University of Rochester. During the 1960s, he was active in the Civil Rights, Black Liberation, and other radical Movements in Chicago. His publications include several co-edited volumes, including Black Nationalism in America (1970), African-American Women and the Vote: 1837-1965 (1997), Strangers and Neighbors: Relations Between Blacks and Jews in the United States (1999), and African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to the Present (2004). Professor Bracey has co-edited (with the late August Meier and Elliott Rudwick) a number of other volumes on various aspects of African American experience. Bracey's scholarship also includes editorial work [with August Meier and Sharon Harley] on the microfilm series Black Studies Research Sources (University Publications of America), which includes the Papers of the NAACP, A. Philip Randolph, Mary McLeod Bethune, the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, and Horace Mann Bond.
Recommended Reading and Viewing
Geschwender, James A., Class, Race & Worker Insurgency – The League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
Detroit, I Do Mind Dying tracks the extraordinary development of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, as they became two of the most vital political organizations of the 1960s and 1970s. Widely heralded as one the most important books on the black liberation movement and labor struggles in U.S. history.
Click to Listen to Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin Speak on Detroit: I Do Mind Dying
“Soul Power or Workers Power? The Rise and Fall of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers” (1974)
Bates, Beth Tompkins, The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford. University of North Carolina Press, 2012. http://uncpress.unc.edu/books/10078.html
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Liberation Film Series: 2012-2013 Season entitled An Exploration in Youth-focused Intergenerational Conversations educates the youth, and others, about the real world and the Black people - many unknown - who struggled, globally, to make it better. This series offers the regional community a refreshingly new opportunity to experience a season of culturally important, conscious, enlightening, and engaging films. Immediately following each film, a speaker led interpretation and Q&A session will provide the audience deeper insights. No other theater in the region offers this type of focused programming and premiere educational opportunity. To encourage literacy, a bibliography, supplemental reading materials, and useful links for each film will be accessible on the Museum’s website, and the speaker’s books and related texts available at the venue.
This unique film/discussion series is the result of the financial support and/or collaborative consultation with Eastern Michigan University, The Media Education Foundation (MEF), Michigan State University, University of Detroit - Mercy, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, University of Michigan - Dearborn, Oakland University, Wayne County Community College District, Wayne State University, Good People Popcorn, Dr. Errol Henderson - Penn State University, and other leading scholars and community activists.
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 East Warren Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48201
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