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Humanities on the Edge Presents: Austin McCoy

“Organizing the Revolution: Workers’ Visions of Economic Democracy in the US After the 1960s”

5:30 pm–7:00 pm
Sheldon Museum of Art Room: Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium
451 N 12th St
Lincoln NE 68588
Additional Info: SHEL
Marco Abel,
Austin McCoy is Assistant Professor of History at West Virginia University. Dr. McCoy’s research interests focus on African American history, the U.S. left, labor and political economy, and social movements and activism. His current manuscript project, tentatively titled, The Quest for Democracy: Black Power, New Left, and Progressive Politics in the Post-Industrial Midwest revises conventional explanations emphasizing the separation and decline of Black Power and the New Left in the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s. The Quest for Democracy is organized around six case studies of activists in Detroit, Chicago, and in the state of Ohio organizing for participatory democracy in urban development, foreign policy, and the industrial economy. Ultimately, the project shows how progressives scored victories in local elections as well as anti-war and anti-police violence campaigns and their struggles against deindustrialization influenced national political discourse.

Dr. McCoy is also public scholar, utilizing history to comment on contemporary issues related to politics and culture in numerous media outlets including the Washington Post, Nursing Clio, Black Perspectives, CNN, and Truthout.

At WVU, Dr. McCoy teaches a variety of courses in U.S., African American, and labor history, and works with graduate students who focus on studying the experiences of African Americans, organized labor, race, politics, and social movements.

“Organizing the Revolution: Workers’ Visions of Economic Democracy in the US After the 1960s”

In the last several years, many politicians and pundits have talked much about “saving democracy” with the resurgence of authoritarianism in U.S. politics. However, what does it mean to save democracy within a political system that exists to support authoritarian, corporate, and police power? My lecture will draw from research on the labor movement and the post-New Left in the 1970s to consider the ways in which organized labor has articulated, and struggled politically for, expansive visions of democracy in response to corporate power and state violence. I will also consider how these past visions of social transformation might inspire workers and the labor movement today.

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