JAH podcast with Michael Honey, author of Sharecroppers Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, and the African American Song Tradition

by Michael Honey and Jessie Kindig

Jessie Kindig, Journal of American History assistant editor and visiting assistant professor of American history at Indiana University recently interviewed Michael Honey, author, teacher, filmmaker, activist, and Haley Professor of Humanities at the University of Washington Tacoma, about his recent work in African American history and labor studies. In this podcast they discuss his recent book, Sharecroppers Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, and the African American Song Tradition, published at the end of 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan in its oral history series. In presentations on this book, Honey sings and talks, as did Handcox, the "poet laureate" of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU), to tell about the bitter days of racism and repression in the Arkansas Mississippi River delta during the Great Depression, music that also provided the hope and inspiration for an astonishing interracial union movement in Ku Klux Klan country that became a precursor to the 1960s civil rights movement. Honey recently directed and produced a thirty-eight-minute documentary film, Love and Solidarity: Rev. James Lawson and Nonviolence in the Search for Labor Rights, which will soon be available to university libraries and community organizations. In this interview, he discusses how Lawson's theory and practice of nonviolent direct action energized the black freedom movement in the South and continues to animate union organizing in Los Angeles, where the eighty-seven-year old Lawson now lives. Kindig also asks about oral history as a practice of personal expression and historical research, and Honey talks about how it can help us to understand movements from below.

Below is a link to the podcast, hosted by the JAH. Honey's interview is titled "Sharecropper's Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, and the African American Song Tradition."

http://jah.oah.org/podcast/

Michael Honey is Haley Professor of Humanities at University of Washington Tacoma and Harry Bridges Chair of Labor Studies Emeritus at the University of Washington. A recipient of grants from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and numerous awards from historical organizations, his five books include, Sharecroppers' Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, and the African-American Song Tradition (2013); editor, Martin Luther King Jr., All Labor Has Dignity (2011); Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign (2007); Black Workers Remember: Segregation, Unionism, and the Freedom Struggle (1999); and Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights: Organizing Memphis Workers (1993). This is his second film venture.
For details, see http://faculty.washington.edu/mhoney/