Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Saturday, April 20, 2024

I'm not a particularly religious man, thought Robert Zieger as he made the long walk from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to his car. It's just a Baptist preacher, and I need to pick up my wife anyway, he said to himself.

Forty-five years later, the UF history professor still regrets leaving the 1963 March on Washington before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech.

But before Zeiger, then a 25-year-old graduate student, left the march, he picked up a slightly damaged poster that read "UAW (United Auto Workers) Says Jobs and Freedom for Every American."

"I was well aware of the civil rights movement and sympathetic to it," Zeiger said. "To me, it's a great, inspiring thing."

The sign, which now hangs in his office in Keene-Flint Hall, inspired the title of his most recent book, "For Jobs and Freedom."

The book, which was published in October, addresses civil rights struggles and the labor movement for working-class blacks since the Civil War.

The struggle for blacks to find work during the first half of the 20th century was as important, though perhaps less televised, as the struggle for voting and education rights, Zeiger said.

Though the book focuses on history, the present and future success of labor unions rests in the hands of working-class minorities, he added.

While minorities make up a large part of the working class, they are often underrepresented in labor unions, he said.

Though the U.S. is more multicultural than ever, labor unions' numbers remain low. In the past, some unions often ignored or shunned minorities, he added.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.