“Bowlers First, Union Men Second”: The Politics of Race, Work, and Leisure in the UAW’s Campaign to Desegregate Bowling
Molly Hudgens, University of Chicago
Commentators: Erik Gellman, Roosevelt University and Lewis Erenberg, Loyola University Chicago
In the years following the Second World War, the United Auto Workers (UAW-CIO) challenged the discriminatory policies of the American Bowling Congress (ABC) – the official governing body that set rules and regulations for league bowling, but which also limited its membership to “white men.” The UAW’s Recreation Department, after years of disregarding the complaints of nonwhite union members excluded from union bowling, spearheaded a national campaign to “democratize” the “almost-all-American” game. The UAW’s fair play campaign sheds light on the ways industrial workers negotiated race and labor politics in commercial public space, and the extent to which workers remained divided despite their participation in the world of mass culture and consumption.
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The Newberry Library Seminar in Labor History is co-sponsored by the History Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University and the Labor and Working Class History Association
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