Date of Award
Trevor George Porter: The Congress of Industrial Organizations: Operation Dixie and a Legacy of Worker Activism (Under the Direction of Dr. Jarod Roll)
The passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 overhauled United States labor law, and it shifted the balance of power in favor of organized labor. Seizing upon this monumental moment in history, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was founded with a mandate to “organize the unorganized”. The labor federation made its primary focus the mass production workers of America, many of whom had not previously been afforded the opportunity to join a union. This was especially true in the southern United States, where a combination of one-party political hegemony, Jim Crow laws which mandated segregation, and the defiance of corporations went unmatched in opposition to unionism. Building on a tradition of radical, militant activism, the CIO brought mass unionism to the South. Refusing to stop with workers’ rights, the federation went further by pushing for civil and political rights for African Americans in the South when few dared to challenge the established order which had remained in place since Reconstruction. The legacy of the CIO can be traced beyond its southern organizing forays to the present day, where the traditions of worker activism continue to make themselves known in the present day in fights for equal rights across not only the South but the entire United States of America.
Porter, Trevor G., "The Congress of Industrial Organizations: Operation Dixie and a Legacy of Worker Activism" (2021). Honors Theses. 1621.
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