Political Junkie
Why Now? A Political Junkie Podcast
Episode 3: Black and White Together

Episode 3: Black and White Together

In this episode of "Why Now?" historian Victoria Wolcott discusses prefigurative politics and her book, "Living in the Future: Utopianism and the Long Civil Rights Movement"

Children playong at the Delta Cooperative, 1937. Photo credit: Louise Boyle, The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives in the ILR School at Cornell University/Wikimedia Commons

In the last episode, we discussed the aspirations and limitations of the 19th-century Black freedom movement; this week, Black and white Progressives imagine a twentieth century without racism. My guest is Victoria W. Wolcott, professor of history at the State University of New York at Buffalo and author of Living in the Future: Utopianism and the Long Civil Rights Movement (University of Chicago Press, 2022). In this new take on twentieth-century interracialism, Wolcott recreates a world of prefigurative politics that would set the stage for the social movements of the post-war era—not just the Black civil rights struggle but all the liberation movements that arose from and alongside it.

Program notes:

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  • Claire and Victoria focused in on the chapter about Father Divine and his movement. You might want to check out Jill Watts, God, Harlem U.S.A.: The Father Divine Story (University of California Press, 1992). In this section, Victoria also mentions Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (Vintage, 2003).

  • Noting the radicalism of the pre-war movement for racial justice, Victoria mentioned Glenda Gilmore, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950 (W.W. Norton, 2008) and Robin Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression (University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

  • You can read Victoria’s article about Floria Pinkney, "Networks of Resistance: Floria Pinkney and Labor Interracialism in Interwar America." The Journal of African American History v. 105, no. 4 (2020).

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Short takes:

  • Abortion was on the ballot in five states—and abortion won! Makes me wish they had let us vote on it years ago. As Melissa Quinn writes at CBS News, “Buoyed by the defeat in Kansas of a proposed constitutional amendment removing the right to an abortion from the state constitution, other state lawmakers and activists are already laying the groundwork for ballot initiatives in more states in 2024.” (November 9, 2022)

  • Donald Trump was the biggest loser on the night of November 8, writes Alex Shepherd at The New Republic. “But Republicans also have a dilemma,” Shepherd continues. “There does seem to be a Trump effect in elections: When Trump is on the ballot, turnout is gigantic—for both parties. When he isn’t, Republicans suffer. If Trump were to somehow lose the Republican nomination in 2024, it’s highly likely he would claim fraud—or encourage his voters to stay home.” (November 9, 2022)

  • And who won the midterms? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, says political guru David Frum at The Atlantic. But “If DeSantis is in the game now, he has to play now,” Frum warns, and stop ignoring the chief barrier between him and the GOP nomination in 2024. “Somebody who seeks to replace Trump atop the Republican Party cannot pretend Trump is not there. Trump is a huge personality who makes every contest a battle of personalities. Refusing to engage is not an option because he will engage whether his target likes it or not. There’s no choice except to engage in turn.” (November 9, 2022)

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Political Junkie
Why Now? A Political Junkie Podcast
Where contemporary history and politics meet the challenge of today.