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On December 2, in Greensboro, N.C., IREHR’s Leonard Zeskind conducted a two-hour workshop for the Southern Workers Organizing Committee on the Reconstruction period after the Civil War.  The two-dozen attendees, from Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama were all engaged in organizing low wage workers in their areas.  For the workshop, they all read segments from W.E.B. DuBois’ Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880.

Zeskind emphasized the self-emancipation of the people described by DuBois as “unpaid black labor.” He also stressed the importance of the Fourteenth Amendment and echoed Thurgood Marshall when he noted that it changed the Constitution in a significant and more egalitarian fashion.

Zeskind also followed DuBois and noted that poor white labor had undermined itself by allying with the old planter system, instead of teaming up with the newly emancipated slaves. Reconstruction was a crucial period in American history, and any future period of significant progressive change will echo many of the developments 150 years ago.

Devin Burghart

Author Devin Burghart

is vice president of IREHR. He coordinates our Seattle office, directs our research efforts, and manages our online communications. He has researched, written, and organized on virtually all facets of contemporary white nationalism since 1992, and is internationally recognized for this effort. Devin is frequently quoted as an expert by print, broadcast, and online media outlets. In 2007, he was awarded a Petra Foundation fellowship. more...

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