Joe W. Trotter, Jr. will deliver the 2021 Diaspora Lecture on Thursday, February 4 at 3:30pm EST via Zoom. He will discuss his latest publication Workers on Arrival: Black Labor and the Making of America. Dr. Trotter is the Giant Eagle Professor of History and Social Justice and Founder and Director of the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of Black Milwaukee and Coal, Class, and Color and past President of the Labor and Working Class History Association.
From the ongoing issues of poverty, health, housing and employment to the recent upsurge of lethal police-community relations, the Black working class stands at the center of perceptions of social and racial conflict today. Journalists and public policy analysts often discuss the Black poor as “consumers” rather than “producers,” as “takers” rather than “givers,” and as “liabilities” instead of “assets.” In Workers on Arrival, Trotter refutes these perceptions by charting the Black working class’s vast contributions to the making of America. Covering the last four hundred years since Africans were first brought to Virginia in 1619, Trotter traces Black workers’ complicated journey from the transatlantic slave trade through the American century to the demise of the industrial order in the 21st century. At the center of this compelling, fast-paced narrative are the actual experiences of these African American men and women. A dynamic and vital history of remarkable contributions despite repeated setbacks, Workers on Arrival expands our understanding of America’s economic and industrial growth, its cities, ideas, and institutions, and the real challenges confronting Black urban communities today.
Dr. Trotter teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in African American and U. S. urban, labor, and working class history. He has delivered scholarly papers and lectures in a variety of professional forums in the United States and abroad, including institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, and the Middle East. He has served on the boards and committees of numerous professional organizations: Executive Council, OAH; Chair, Nominating Committee, OAH; OAH Program Committee; Executive Council, SHA; Program Committee, SHA; Francis B. Simkins Prize Committee, SHA; Immigration History Society Executive Board; Jameson Fellowship Committee, AHA; Program Committee, Oral History Association; chair of the annual Program Committee of the American Historical Association. He has also served as a member and Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the H. John Heinz III Regional History Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate, and past President of the Labor and Working Class History Association.