SLSA Holds 2017 Southern Labor Studies Conference in Tampa, Florida

The Southern Labor Studies Association held its biennial conference on March 3-5, 2017, in Tampa, Florida. The meeting brought together scholars, archivists, graduate students, and activists for three days of panels, lectures, roundtable discussions, and a walking tour of Ybor City. The chairperson of the 2017 conference committee was Evan Bennett, SLSA treasurer and Associate Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University.

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Cindy Hahamovitch

Panels and roundtables were organized around a number of issues including environment and labor in the South, research and advocacy around issues facing Florida’s farmworkers, historical perspectives on labor organizing in the recent New South, immigration and protest, and public/private sector organizing in the South. Roundtable discussions were held on two recently-published books: You Can’t Eat Freedom: Southerners and Social Justice after the Civil Rights Movement, by Greta de Jong, and Corazon de Dixie: Mexicanos in the U.S. South since 1910, by Julie Weise. Opening events on Friday, March 3, included a keynote address by former SLSA President, Cindy Hahamovitch, Professor of History at the University of Georgia, who discussed historical linkages between the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, subsequent systems of indentured labor, and modern-day guest worker programs and policies.

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Left to right: Max Krochmal, Joshua Hollands, Zieger Prize Chairperson Paul Ortiz

At the general membership meeting and luncheon on Saturday, March 4, Joshua Hollands, a postgraduate research student at the Institute of the Americas at University College London, was awarded the 2017 Zieger Prize in Southern Labor Studies for his essay, “‘There’s a Bigot in Your Biscuit’: Workplace Discrimination at Cracker Barrel, Civil Rights, and Corporate Activism in the Southern United States.” Max Krochmal delivered the luncheon lecture, discussing his new book, Blue Texas: The Making of a Multiracial Democratic Coalition in the Civil Rights Era. Following the Saturday afternoon panels, Professor Gary Mormino led a walking tour of Tampa’s historic Ybor City.

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Gary Mormino

The conference closed on Sunday, March 5, following a lecture and discussion with Jennifer Proffitt, President of the United Faculty of Florida.

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Jennifer Proffitt

At the membership meeting, it was decided by vote that the conference would be moved to a two-year schedule on even, rather than odd years. The next Southern Labor Studies Conference will be held at the University of Georgia in May 2018.