Freedom Is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace
In the 1950s, the exclusion of women and of black and Latino men from higher-paying jobs was so universal as to seem normal to most Americans. Today, diversity in the workforce is a point of pride. How did such a transformation come about?
In this bold and groundbreaking work, Nancy MacLeanshows how African-American and later Mexican-American civil rights activists and feminists concluded that freedom alone would not suffice: access to jobs at all levels is a requisite of full citizenship. Tracing the struggle to open the American workplace to all, MacLean chronicles the cultural and political advances that have irrevocably changed our nation over the past fifty years.
Freedom Is Not Enough reveals the fundamental role jobs play in the struggle for equality. We meet the grassroots activists—rank-and-file workers, community leaders, trade unionists, advocates, lawyers—and their allies in government who fight for fair treatment, as we also witness the conservative forces that assembled to resist their demands. Weaving a powerful and memorable narrative, MacLean demonstrates the life-altering impact of the Civil Rights Act and the movement for economic advancement that it fostered.
The struggle for jobs reached far beyond the workplace to transform American culture. MacLean enables us to understand why so many came to see good jobs for all as the measure of full citizenship in a vital democracy. Opening up the workplace, she shows, opened minds and hearts to the genuine inclusion of all Americans for the first time in our nation's history.
Taking its title from remarks made by President Johnson in 1965 that freedom for former slaves was just the beginning of the long process necessary to achieve true equality, this book focuses on the struggle to achieve racial and sexual equality in the workplace. History professor MacLean traces the profound changes in the workplace in the last 50 years, and how overall society has been changed by the inclusion of women and minorities across the broad spectrum of the economy. Historically, segregation in the job market kept white males in positions of political, social, and economic power. The New Deal continued discriminatory employment practices demonstrated in listings by the U.S. Labor Department and newspaper advertisements that segregated jobs. MacLean explores the efforts of labor organizations, NAACP, NOW, and other groups to open job opportunities, as well as the conflicts that developed--notably with Jewish organizations--as the fight for civil rights clashed with economics. She devotes an entire section to those individuals who pioneered professions, trades, and jobs, risking abuse, violence, and even death. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved Superb and provocative...In a bold and sweeping new interpretation, [MacLean] argues that ordinary working people pushed forward the challenges to the centuries-old barriers that excluded women and minorities from America's best jobs...But what's new and extraordinary about MacLean's work is her ability to incorporate the histories of several groups at once. She tells the story of African-American, Mexican-American and female workers in tandem, even while recognizing that their struggles to break into once-off-limits jobs took different paths...MacLean uses the story of the struggle for workplace equality to consider nothing less than the major political realignments of the past quarter century...This is contemporary history at its best. (Alex Lichtenstein Chicago Tribune 2006-03-12)Impressive. MacLean's decision to focus her history of civil rights on jobs and employment uncovers patterns of change and continuity that have remained largely unseen until now...Freedom Is Not Enough is a major work of scholarship that develops and defends a compelling perspective on one of the most significant transformations in recent U.S. history; it deserves a wide readership among those interested in seriously reckoning with how far the United States has come since the mid-twentieth century-and how far it may have yet to go. (Anthony S. Chen Journal of American History 2007-03-01)Nancy MacLean's Freedom is Not Enough tells essential stories of movements for economic inclusion and their heroes. It is one of the most important new works of history I have read in years...MacLean has an eye for intriguing, underreported disagreements among groups. Her account of how the opposition of mainstream Jewish organizations to affirmative action fueled the liberal backlash of the 1970s--and energized the neoconservative movement--is eye-opening, as is her discussion of how feminism won some Jewish leaders back to the civil rights cause...Throughout the book...MacLean balances her analysis of broad political, cultural, and economic forces with an understanding of the capacity of individuals to make a difference, and even to change their minds...It's perhaps not surprising that the most inspiring workplace struggles today are those waged by low-wage workers, mostly women and people of color, who are demanding not merely access to jobs, but better pay and more respect...MacLean's history will help us to better understand--and build--these newer, multiracial battles as they emerge. (Liza Featherstone Women's Review of Books 2007-01-01)MacLean's authoritative retelling is more than a new account of the civil rights movements of blacks and Latinos and women--her focus on employment amounts to a refreshing rethinking of why today's offices look the way they do. (Matthew Budman Across the Board 2006-03-01)MacLean's book...is vital to understanding where the struggle for civil rights has gone since the 1960s, and the case she makes for equal-employment laws is powerful. (David L. Chappell The Nation 2007-04-24)The civil rights movement was about much more than abstract legal freedom, formal equality, or voting rights. It was, as Nancy MacLean shows in the sweeping national survey, also about access to good jobs...This book–based on primary research in well over a hundred manuscript collections and synthesizing a vast amount of secondary literature--is a vital contribution to the emerging field of late twentieth-century history. Readable and engaging, moving effortlessly between biographies of ordinary people and analyses of movement dynamics, it offers much to the student of politics, social movements, African American history, Chicano/a history, women's history, and conservatism. (Ellen R. Baker Reviews in American History 2007-02-01)A masterful and comprehensive account of the way in which the modern conservative movement interacted with and transformed the trajectory of the civil rights movement from the mid-1950s onward...Her parallel accounts of left- and right-wing social movement development, which thrust their interaction into sharp focus, is a model of historical analysis from which sociologists can learn a great deal. (Ruth Milkman American Journal of Sociology 2007-01-01)MacLean succeeds in portraying much of the human drama involved in the struggle for better jobs...A well-written and accessible work that has clear potential to be adopted in courses on U.S. history since 1945...Detailed coverage [of] Latinos and Asian Americans increases the relevance of this book to the modern-day reader. (Timothy J. Minchin American Historical Review 2007-06-01)Convincingly reinterprets the civil rights era of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s as a movement that positioned workplace equality as a seminal component in the fight to eradicate social and economic disparities across the United States...MacLean's detailed and brilliantly researched work does more than offer a general history of these movements for employment inclusion, important as such inclusiveness has become to definitions of equality. MacLean gives depth and breadth to this work by providing vignettes of key strategists and policy advocates...[An] important work. (Robert S. Smith Journal of Southern History 2007-05-01)[An] important new book...Effectively melding social, legal, and political history, the book makes clear just how central the assault on workplace discrimination was to the African American civil rights struggle and the movements it spawned...It is a broad transformation of hearts and minds, as well as hiring practices and political affinities, that MacLean seeks to explain, and she accomplishes much in less than 350 pages of text. For showing how African American activists set in motion a fundamental shift in American workplaces from unthinking acceptance of exclusion to celebration of inclusion and diversity, Freedom Is Not Enough deserves a wide audience. (Kathleen Barry Labor 2007-04-01)
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