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Hammer and HoeAlabama Communists during the Great Depression$
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Robin D. G. Kelley

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625485

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625485.001.0001

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Radical Genesis: Birmingham, 1870–1930

Radical Genesis: Birmingham, 1870–1930

(p.1) Prologue Radical Genesis: Birmingham, 1870–1930
Hammer and Hoe

Robin D. G. Kelley

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the period 1870–1930 in Birmingham, Alabama, which was marked by industrialization and the rise of organized labor. The newly created industrial complex in Birmingham attracted thousands of men and women who comprised the cheap labor force from which local capitalists could make their fortunes. Yet the city's proletariat was by no means docile, with many having some experience of organizing. The Knights of Labor and the Greenback-Labor party, for instance, established a tradition of militant, interracial unionism among Birmingham coal-miners. The United Mine Workers of Alabama (UMW) were able to organize Birmingham workers until the body was crushed during the coal miners' strike in 1894. Late in the decade, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) reinvigorated organized labor in Alabama's coal mines and began a campaign to rebuild the union.

Keywords:   Birmingham, industrialization, organized labor, labor movement, unionism, United Mine Workers of Alabama, Knights of Labor, Greenback-Labor party, United Mine Workers of America

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