Local News

Labor historian Toni Gilpin will make two appearances in Louisville Tuesday to tell the little-known story of a local  labor union that was ahead of its time.

A local chapter of the United Farm Machinery workers organized at Louisville’s International Harvester plant in the late 1940s, and began advocating for racial equality both inside and outside of the plant. Their efforts would lead to an entire factory of mostly white workers walking off the job to protest the unfair treatment of their African American colleagues.

Outside the factory walls, union members tried to desegregate the Brown Hotel and Cherokee Park—both whites-only at the time—and were met with violence and forcible removal by police.

Gilpin spoke with Kaila Story of WFPL’s Strange Fruit about the work of Local 236. She will appear Tuesday afternoon at the University of Louisville and later that evening at the National Association of Letter Carriers.

More photos of the International Harvester plant are available in the University of Louisville’s Photographic Archives.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects.