The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford

The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford

by Beth Tompkins Bates
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In the 1920s, Henry Ford hired thousands of African American men for his open-shop system of auto manufacturing. This move was a rejection of the notion that better jobs were for white men only. In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, Beth Tompkins Bates explains how black Detroiters, newly arrived from the South, seized the economic…  See more details below

Overview

In the 1920s, Henry Ford hired thousands of African American men for his open-shop system of auto manufacturing. This move was a rejection of the notion that better jobs were for white men only. In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, Beth Tompkins Bates explains how black Detroiters, newly arrived from the South, seized the economic opportunities offered by Ford in the hope of gaining greater economic security. As these workers came to realize that Ford's anti-union "American Plan" did not allow them full access to the American Dream, their loyalty eroded, and they sought empowerment by pursuing a broad activist agenda. This, in turn, led them to play a pivotal role in the United Auto Workers' challenge to Ford's interests.
In order to fully understand this complex shift, Bates traces allegiances among Detroit's African American community as reflected in its opposition to the Ku Klux Klan, challenges to unfair housing practices, and demands for increased and effective political participation. This groundbreaking history demonstrates how by World War II Henry Ford and his company had helped kindle the civil rights movement in Detroit without intending to do so.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[This] very readable study will be of enormous interest to historians of the urban and industrial Midwest, to scholars interested in racial formation in the region, and to those who study African American experiences.--Middle West Review

Recommended. All academic levels/libraries.--Choice

Beth Tompkins Bates delves further back than others have into the 1920s and extends her critical eye to community formation and the political activities of Detroit's blacks, many of whom were in the first wave of the Great Migration.--Historian

Offers a more realistic view of the tensions that existed within the union . . . [and] highlights the role Black organizers played in the UAW drive at Ford.--Against the Current

A detailed and highly readable history of Ford's industrial goals, his controlling social vision for his workers, and his brutal response to unionization.--TriQuarterly

Combines the broader political, social and economic life of Detroit with the experiences endured at the Ford Motor Company, as African Americans quickened their pace on the long and seemingly never ending march, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Junior, to be treated according to the content of their characters rather than the colour of their skins.--Labour History

Black Detroit includes some remarkable and complicated stories [that explore] changing attitudes and realities within the city in a masterful manner. . . . It is an important addition to the Detroit Story.--American Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807837450
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/24/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
360
File size:
16 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Bates moves beyond shopfloor politics and traditional labor history to explore the complex relationship between Ford Motor Company and its migrant African American employees. She challenges the image of black Detroit as a pliant and politically quiescent community and posits instead that the labor and work-oriented issues they faced were central to early civil rights activism.--Steven Reich, James Madison University

Meet the Author

Beth Tompkins Bates is professor emerita at Wayne State University and author of Pullman Porters and the Rise of Protest Politics in Black America, 1925-1945.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >