By Kim Kelly
The definitive history of the American labor movement from Teen Vogue columnist Kim Kelly.
The history of organized labor in America all too often conjures a bygone era and generic images of slick-haired strongmen and hard-hatted construction workers. But in fact, one of America’s first unions was founded by Black Mississippi freedwomen in the 1860s. Jewish immigrant garment workers were instrumental in getting worker protections incorporated into FDR’s New Deal. Latino- and Asian-American farmworkers in California were 1970s pioneers in the fight for racial inclusion and a fair wage. And today, Amazon warehouse employees struggling to unionize in Bessemer, Alabama are 85% Black.
In Fight Like Hell, Teen Vogue labor columnist and independent journalist Kim Kelly tells the definitive history of the labor movement and the people—workers, organizers, and their allies—who risked everything to fight for paid overtime, sick leave, disability protections, and an eight-hour workday. That history is a 1972 clothing company strike that saw 4,000 Chicana laborers start a boycott that swept the nation. It is Ida Mae Stull’s 1934 fight for the right to work in an Ohio coal mine right alongside the men. Dorothy Lee Bolden’s 1960s rise from domestic workers’ union founder to White House anti-segregationist. It's Lucy Parsons, Mother Jones, Ben Fletcher, and Frank Little’s militant fight against the ravages of capitalism. It’s the flight attendants union that pushed to root out sexual assault in the skies and ended a 2019 federal government shutdown. And it is Bayard Rustin, a queer civil rights pioneer who helped organize Dr. King’s March on Washington and promoted the alignment between movements for labor and civil rights.
As America grapples with the unfinished business of emancipation, the New Deal, and Johnson’s Great Society, Fight Like Hell offers a transportive look at the forgotten heroes who’ve sacrificed to make good on the nation’s promises. Kim Kelly’s publishing debut is both an inspiring read and a vital contribution to American history.
- 288 pages
- Atria/One Signal Publishers (4/26/22)
- 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches