Little Known Black History Fact: League of Revolutionary Black Workers

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The League of Revolutionary Black Workers was formed in Detroit in the late sixties, combining the ideals of both the labor and Black liberation movements. The organization’s time was short-lived but it had significant impact in raising the awareness of workers’ rights in the Motor City and beyond.

In the wake of the 1967 riots, groups of Black auto industry and factory workers formed what was known as Revolutionary Union Movements (RUMs) and the League sprung forth from these meetings.

Steeped in the ideas of communist thought leaders such as Lenin and Marx, the League swiftly grew to around 80 members and a seven-member executive board consisting of General Baker, Kenneth Cockrel, Mike Hamlin, Luke Tripp, John Watson, John Williams, and Chuck Wooten.

Watson, who was the editor of Wayne State University’s South End Press paper, used the publication to get word out about the League and its efforts to organize. The group challenged the racist practices and the capitalism of large corporations, like the better-known Black Panther party. Like most movements of its ilk, the League splintered and ended in the early ‘70s, although many of the unions continued to exist on a smaller scale.

The League and other RUMs is the subject of the Book “Detroit, I Do Mind Dying,” which examines the city’s Black labor movement and its impact.

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