Video Lectures

Smart Towns: Life History Narratives of Detroit Auto Workers in the 1950s

Daniel Clark, professor of U.S. history at Oakland University, will talk about the lives of autoworkers in the 1950s, highlighting their resilience during a time of economic and job insecurity and instability. Clark regularly teaches courses on U.S. Labor and Cold War America as well as undergraduate and graduate seminars. His first book, "Like Night and Day: Unionization in a Southern Mill Town" (University of North Carolina Press, 1997), explored what unionization meant to workers and managers at cotton mills in a North Carolina community during the 1940s and 1950s. His most recent book, "Disruption in Detroit: Autoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom" (University of Illinois Press, 2018), argues that for ordinary autoworkers the period from 1945-60 was marked by job instability and economic insecurity, not a steady rise into the middle class.

The global pandemic has put many things in perspective. In 2021, Smart Towns programs will focus on the many ways humans have found to solve problems and find inspiration during difficult periods. Smart Towns wishes to celebrate how resilient and resourceful people can be in the world. Join us as we take a look at resilience in both historical and contemporary times.

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