The years 1865-1940 were chosen for this project, as they coincide with most of the largest waves of labor activity within the United States, and the labor conditions of this span of time, perhaps apart from early reconstruction, were all impacted predominantly by the second industrial revolution.

Two separate stories within the Richmond working class persisted throughout this span of time; one of the black working class, and the other of the white working class. Into the 20th century, black and white workers were rarely ever seen working in the same settings, and white labor movements were often exclusive towards Richmond’s black population, even within organizations such the Knights of Labor that have been celebrated as places that both the black and white sections of the American working class could convene during its prevalence in the late 1800s. Due to both of these reasons, the black and white sections of Richmond’s working class each took up their own distinct forms of labor struggle during the second industrial revolution.

Upon the ending of chattel slavery, a vast array of measures was thrown at the American black population, including Richmond’s, to draw from them similar gains for the white ruling class as they had seen before the end of chattel slavery. Finding their way through the struggles of sharecropping, the sudden rapid growth of convict slavery, and general entry into society with no platform to build off of were the primary concerns for the black working class of Richmond. Consistently the worst off and most viciously exploited of Richmond’s working class population, labor struggle within the black working class often came abruptly and organically, all throughout the late 1800s and well into the mid-1900s. Richmond’s white working class saw large waves of labor organization throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, until the victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia saw the birth of the Red Scare in America, and labor activity among the white working class of America and Richmond soon dwindled. 

Blog 7

This reading about Tangier made me think about when my family visited the island in 2017, and of how strange it is that the residents are being hit by a problem they don’t even realize, and perhaps will continue misdiagnosing even past the point that their island is abandoned.

In the early summer of 2017, my family took a trip to Tangier Island, and while most of the tourists we traveled with did a day tour, my family stuck around for a few days. The ferry trip over made me seasick, and it was that day exactly that I realized I’m not great on large boats, but we made it over nonetheless. The first thing I noticed was the tiny roads and use of golf carts as the primary form of transportation on Tangier. As the island isn’t even 350 acres, and only growing smaller of course, there is no need for fast motor vehicles. On our second day there, my entire family, including my then seven-year-old brother, was able to circle the perimeter of the island on the bikes that we rented there. As we got the background of the island early on in our trip, I found it really shocking to learn the extent to which the island had already decreased in size, the amount of by which the island’s population was decreasing, and the fact that the island may be uninhabitable very soon. I assumed climate change must be quite the topic of concern on the island, only to learn that most of the island’s residents simply blamed “erosion” for their woes. Soon after, while my family walked and cycled around the island, I’d see more Trump signs than people. I could only imagine the small minority of the island who believed in climate change, and who weren’t the greatest fans of Donald Trump, must not have an incredible time when political topics come up in discussion amongst their neighbors, and if anything more than only slightly politically engaged, must find Tangier Island incredibly claustrophobic. My family’s visit to Tangier Island also came when the mayor’s phone call Donald Trump was still a hot topic. Donald Trump had ensured the island that he’d keep the land safe, though gave no concrete plan of action to do so. I’m not sure if this was some goofy fact that my dad heard once and continued repeating, but supposedly, at least a couple island residents believed Donald Trump might “build a wall” around the island. I still don’t remember where that came from, but I respect the intelligence of the islanders enough to imagine nobody actually really seriously believed that.

The reading supplied a bit of an update of the island since my family took a trip there for a few days in 2017. The environmental, economic, and population trends have not changed very much. The island continues to rapidly be eaten up by the surrounding bay, the crabbing industry continues to be insufficient in maintaining a desired quality of life in the modern world, and residents continue to leave. I wonder if much of the island ever figured Trump’s promise for the island was an empty one, but then again, the island really is beyond a point of saving, and it only makes sense that the islanders would latch on to any hope possible. Neither Democrat nor Republican leadership will save Tangier Island from becoming uninhabitable within the next few decades or probably even cares that much, as the role of a politician is generally to keep quiet, shed any cares they may have once had, and fill their pockets. With leadership like this, Tangier Island will only be the beginning of a topic likely to become relevant very soon: climate refugees.

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