What It Means to Be American
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Explore : labor rights

Encounters

The 19th Century Labor Movement That Brought Black and White Arkansans Together

In 1888, Small Farmers, Sharecroppers, and Industrial Workers Organized to Fight Inequality

by Matthew Hild
February 28, 2019

Today, when Americans think about the tradition of political protest to protect democracy, they often recall the mid-20th century, when millions of Americans participated in the civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War. But the roots of American grassroots political activism actually date back further to movements that contested the most basic democratic rights in the South during the late 19th century.

One place to see those roots is in the Gilded Age politics of Arkansas, then a hotbed …

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Ideas

How the South Made Hubert Humphrey Care About Race

The Minnesota Liberal's Louisiana School Years Turned His 'Abstract Commitment' to Civil Rights Into 'Flesh and Blood'

By Arnold A. Offner
July 26, 2018

It is one of the great ironies of 20th-century American history: Hubert Humphrey, the foremost proponent of civil rights among American politicians, had little contact with African Americans until age 28.

Humphrey’s distance from people who would benefit from his legislative prowess was a result of biography and history. He was born in 1911 in the tiny prairie hamlet of Wallace, South Dakota, which had no African Americans. In 1919, he moved with his family 50 miles southwest to slightly larger …

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