Cover image for Unions, radicals, and democratic presidents : seeking social change in the twentieth century
Unions, radicals, and democratic presidents : seeking social change in the twentieth century
Halpern, Martin, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxi, 261 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
The Labor Movement : leader of social change or just another interest group? -- Children of the left : sharing values across the generations -- When Henry met Franklin -- "I'm fighting for freedom" : Coleman Young, HUAC, and the Detroit African American Community -- "From the top down or from the bottom up?" John F. Kennedy, Executive Order 10988, and the rise of public employee unionism -- Jimmy Carter and the UAW : failure of an alliance -- Arkansas and the defeat of Labor Law Reform in 1978 and 1994 -- The crisis of the Labor Movement in the United States and the search for a new vision in domestic and foreign affairs -- Gore or Nader? Progressives, radicals, labor, and the 2000 election.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD6508 .H243 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Social change advocates won a remarkable series of victories during the 20th century. This study examines both successful and unsuccessful efforts, ranging from the women's suffrage movement of the 1910s to the divisive debate between Gore and Nader supporters during the 2000 election. Halpern details the ingredients essential to shaping progressive campaigns. While left-wing activists sustained grass roots movements and worked with allies in left-center coalitions, trade unions energized by progressive activists gave the efforts institutional weight with crucial assistance from Democratic presidents committed to liberalism.

Frequently facing repression, left-wingers nevertheless managed to pass their values on to their children, who in turn sustained new sets of social movements. Leftists worked alongside other progressives to form left-center coalitions on issues such as Civil Rights and labor law reform. Influenced by liberalism, Roosevelt, Johnson, and Kennedy gave crucial assistance to the social change process. Shying away from liberalism, Carter and Clinton and Vice President Gore failed to provide comparable assistance, disappointing progressive activists and unions and leading to important setbacks. Whether the Democratic Party will once again seek to elect a president with a liberal vision to assist a revitalized labor movement, a newly energized left, and left-center coalitions in the social change process remains to be seen.

Author Notes

Martin Halpern is Professor of History at Henderson State University in Arkansas

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Halpern (Henderson State Univ.) traces the successes and failures of the left/progressive movement in the US during the 20th century. He posits that four elements were present during periods of progressive social change: a liberal Democratic president, a labor movement led by progressive activists, a left-wing movement that rallied working people around relevant issues, and left-center coalitions at the local and national levels. Many of the chapters use this analytic framework to examine critical progressive victories and defeats during this period. Included are discussions of the women's suffrage movement early in the century, the resistance of Detroit activist Coleman Young to McCarthyism in the early fifties, the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, the defeat of labor law reform in the 1970s, the declining fortunes of the labor movement at the end of the century, and defeat of Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. This analysis provides useful insight into the political direction the nation appears to be headed early in the 21st century. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Academic collections, upper-division undergraduate through faculty. P. F. Clark Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Abbreviationsp. xiii
Introductionp. xv
1 The Labor Movement: Leader of Social Change or Just Another Interest Group?p. 1
2 Children of the Left: Sharing Values Across the Generationsp. 15
3 When Henry Met Franklinp. 43
4 "I'm Fighting for Freedom": Coleman Young, HUAC, and the Detroit African American Communityp. 61
5 "From the Top Down or from the Bottom Up?" John F. Kennedy, Executive Order 10988, and the Rise of Public Employee Unionismp. 79
6 Jimmy Carter and the UAW: Failure of an Alliancep. 117
7 Arkansas and the Defeat of Labor Law Reform in 1978 and 1994p. 147
8 The Crisis of the Labor Movement in the United States and the Search for a New Vision in Domestic and Foreign Affairsp. 177
9 Gore or Nader? Progressives, Radicals, Labor, and the 2000 Electionp. 195
Conclusionp. 243
Bibliographyp. 247
Indexp. 251