IRLE’s Black History Month study list

We collected past and recent reports, initiatives, videos, stories and audio content that center Black worker struggles and resilience

Breanna Diaz and Lesly Ayala | February 23, 2022

This Black History Month we revisited IRLE events, talks, reports and film screenings focused on the challenges facing Black workers, unique initiatives and powerful civil rights and nonviolent curriculum offered by IRLE and its subunits. 

Our list includes past content that continues to provide valuable insights, and illuminates audiences about Black worker challenges in Los Angeles County, California and nationally. Our digest also offers solutions rooted in the IRLE’s long-standing commitment to policy-driven research, education and service.

Read on to find out about important IRLE research, films, virtual courses, podcasts and articles

1. Dismantling Disparity: Breaking Barriers to Employment

Review findings from a recent study by CARE At Work at the UCLA Labor Center which found that the COVID-19 pandemic compounded the historical systemic discrimination Black workers have faced. Among other findings, authors concluded that funding workforce development initiatives would allow for more resources to reach Black workers. The report also delineates the impact of COVID-19 on Black workers, and explores how grants and federal support can ameliorate the damages. Read the report here.

2. Film Screening: The Black Fatherhood Project

Watch Jordan Thierry’s 2013 documentary The Black Fatherhood Project.” The film explores Black absentee parenting through a poignant and compelling film. “The film also reveals that while the statistics may be discouraging, there is a strong faction of Black men that are breaking the cycle of fatherlessness in their families and inspiring others to do the same,” said Thierry. Today, the film is still accessible here.

In 2013, the IRLE hosted this event featuring a film screening and Q&A session with the film’s director.

3. Free Online Labor Studies Course: Nonviolence and Social Movements

Revisit Civil Rights and labor leader Rev. James Lawson Jr. and UCLA Labor Center Director Kent Wong’s 10-week, free labor studies course. Topics include the history of nonviolent organizing,  historic boycotts and sit-ins, and explorations of other workers’ issues with guest speakers such as Senator Maria Elena Durazo. Other speakers include Professor Melina Abdulla, Dolores Huerta and union leader Bill Lucy. For more information and to access the course recordings, visit this link.

4. Episode 30: Soul Force, Part 1

Listen to the recent episode of Re:Work Radio which focuses on the life and legacy of Rev. James Lawson Jr. On Dec. 11, 2021, the UCLA Labor Center’s historic MacArthur Park building was officially named the UCLA James Lawson Jr. Worker Justice Center. In this latest episode of Re:Work Radio, Rev. James Lawson Jr. shares stories from his youth, and how he came to discover soul force and the path of nonviolence. Listen here.

5. 60 Years Ago Today: The Lunch Counter Sit-Ins That Changed History

Learn more about the Nashville Lunch Counter Sit-Ins led by Rev. James Lawson Jr. which revolutionized nonviolent campaigns and sparked a national movement to desegregate the South. Read more about what led to the sit-ins and how its impact reverberates to this day.

6. Q&A: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas discusses CARE at Work

Learn more about the Center for the Advancement of Racial Equity at Work (CARE at Work) at the UCLA Labor Center. CARE at Work launched in 2019 to facilitate innovative solutions that address the needs of Black working-class people and to engage Black workers and economic justice advocates in the process. We spoke to Project Director Lola Smallwood-Cuevas about the goals and the importance of CARE at Work. Read the blog here.

7. Labor’s Voice: The Struggle for Black Worker Justice

Watch an episode of Labor’s Voice focused on Black worker justice. The UCLA Labor Center partnered with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor to launch Labor’s Voice, a labor education series featuring the voices of workers, labor leaders, community leaders and educators to promote inspiring ideas to advance policy change in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. This episode features three Black labor leaders as they discuss the fight for racial justice and worker justice. Watch here.