Created with Sketch.
Black Work Talk
61 minutes | Dec 14, 2022
Episode 18: Carroll Fife
In this episode of Black Work Talk, Steven Pitts and his co-host Lauren Jacobs talk with Carroll Fife. Carroll Fife is a Councilmember at the City of Oakland. Carroll was formerly director of the Oakland chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). Given Carroll’s previous position with ACCE, we started the episode discussing what it meant to bring a Movement perspective to an elected position. We continued to discuss the distinction between the power that Carroll and her colleagues have as policy makers and the power that certain elites have to dictate the terrain upon which policies are decided. We concluded by talking about what democratic governance looks like and the step Carroll is taking to ensure that voices that are not usual heard have an impact. Here are links to Carroll Fife’s official city website and her campaign website.
63 minutes | Oct 12, 2022
Episode 17: PowerSwitch Action
In this episode of Black Work Talk, Steven Pitts and his co-host, Lauren Jacobs, talk with Kyra Greene and Branden Snyder. Kyra is Executive Director of the Center on Policy Initiatives, and is based in San Diego. Branden is Executive Director of Detroit Action. The Center on Policy Initiatives and Detroit Action are affiliates of PowerSwitch Action, a network of local organizations dedicated to building a multiracial feminist democracy and economies in cities and regions around the county. They had an expansive conversation on the challenges and opportunities facing their organizations; the use of mutual aid efforts as a strategy to address the immediate needs of poor communities and build long-term power; and the distinction between winning elections and actual governance. To read more about these organizations, see these links: PowerSwitch Action Center on Policy Initiatives Detroit Action
57 minutes | Sep 22, 2022
Episode 16: Linda Burnham
In this episode of Black Work Talk’s Season Two, Steven Pitts launches the power-building mini-series with his co-host, Lauren Jacobs. Steven and Lauren talk with Linda Burnham – long-time social justice organizer, writer, and theoretician. Linda is co-editor of a phenomenal book entitled: Power Concedes Nothing: How Grassroots Organizing Wins Elections – a collection of essays and interviews about the on-the-ground efforts that mobilized voters in 2020 across the United States. Linda has a nuanced understanding of power, history, and the path forward to a better world and we talked about the complex path to building more power in this country. Linda stressed that elections are not the only arena where we build and contest for power, but it is an important one and she helped us understand how we can successfully build electoral majorities and build the thick relationships with working people that allow for successful action beyond elections. To read more about the book Linda co-edited, see Power Concedes Nothing: How Grassroots Organizing Wins .
69 minutes | Sep 7, 2022
Episode 15: Stacy Davis Gates
In this episode of Black Work Talk’s Season Two, Steven Pitts and his co-host, Sheri Davis, talk with Stacy Davis Gates, President of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Stacy was one of the founding members of the caucus that formed in 2008 to revitalize the union and fight for a quality education for the youth of Chicago. After 2 years of organizing, caucus leaders won elective offices in the union and began to forge stronger ties with parent groups and other community organizations to battle school administrators and city politicians. Several times, Stacy mentioned the notion of the CTU working hand-in-hand with parents and community organizers in order to use the power of the union to promote the needs and interests of community residents. This philosophy is captured by the concept of “bargaining for the common good”. Stacy is on the Advisory Committee of Bargaining for the Common Good – a network of labor and community organizations around the country who believe that when union and community groups work together their joint power can enhance the possibilities of what can be achieved at the negotiating table and in the streets. To read more about Stacy’s work, see the Chicago Teachers Union website.
51 minutes | Aug 3, 2022
Episode 14: Labor Notes Conference Panel Part 2
This episode of Black Work Talk is the second of two covering the discussion held at the Labor Notes conference on June 17, 2022 titled “Black Labor Struggles Over Time: An Intergenerational Panel.” The panel moderators were Toussaint Losier of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Bianca Cunningham of the Action Center on Race and the Economy. Panelists included Jerome Scott, a long time organizer in the struggle for Black freedom and worker rights; Susan DeCarava of the NewsGuild of New York; Chris Smalls of the Amazon Labor Union; and Stacy Davis Gates of the Chicago Teachers Union. This episode focuses on the second question for the panelists: What does it mean to support Black worker organizing at this moment in time? In addition, the episode covers the Q & A with the audience.
58 minutes | Jul 20, 2022
Episode 13: Labor Notes Conference Panel Part 1
This episode of Black Work Talk is the first of two covering the discussion held at the Labor Notes conference on June 17, 2022 titled “Black Labor Struggles Over Time: An Intergenerational Panel.” The panel moderators were Toussaint Losier of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Bianca Cunningham of the Action Center on Race and the Economy. Panelists included Jerome Scott, a long time organizer in the struggle for Black freedom and worker rights; Susan DeCarava of the NewsGuild of New York; Chris Smalls of the Amazon Labor Union; and Stacy Davis Gates of the Chicago Teachers Union. This episode focuses on the opening question for the panelists: What are the key challenges facing Black workers today and what should we do about it? The second episode will feature the Q & A with the audience and cover the question: What does it mean to support Black worker organizing at this moment in time?
75 minutes | Jul 7, 2022
Episode 12: Erica Iheme
In this episode of Black Work Talk, Steven Pitts and his co-host, Sheri Davis, talk with Erica Iheme, the Deputy Director for Jobs to Move America, an organization dedicated to ensuring that government uses the power of public funds to create a just, clean, and worker-centered economy. The conversation focuses on Erica’s critique of traditional organizing models and the need to shift to organizing practices that sustain organizers and facilitate a stronger relationship with communities. To read more about Erica Iheme’s work, see: Jobs to Move America Alabama Coalition for Community Benefits During the episode, Sheri Davis mentioned her post at the Crunk Feminist Collective’s blog. You can access that post (and others) at: The Crunk Feminist Collective new blog - The Remix In his introduction to this episode, Steven Pitts mentioned an article about the success of Latin American activists in turning the region into a region that supports a woman’s right to choose. Here is the link to that article: Foreign Affairs - "Latin America's Lessons for a Post-Roe United States
68 minutes | May 18, 2022
Episode 11: Danielle Phillips-Cunningham
In this episode of Black Work Talk, Steven Pitts and his co-host, Sheri Davis, talk with Danielle Phillips-Cunningham, Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Texas Woman’s University. Danielle has been at the forefront of recent scholarship highlighting the efforts of Black working-class women to control their lives. Her book, “Putting Their Hands on Race: Irish Immigrant and Southern Black Domestic Workers,” builds upon the work of Tera W. Hunter ("To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War") to tell the story of the organizing efforts of Black domestic workers. Her newest research focuses on the activities of Nannie Helen Burroughs through organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the National Association of Wage Earners. Her work has important implications for today’s organizing as well. We spoke about this work on the show. For further information, see: Putting Their Hands on Race: Irish Immigrant and Southern Black Domestic Workers The Washington Post - On Labor Day, we remember the Black women who helped win labor rights The Washington Post - The long history of Black women organizing in Georgia might decide Senate control
81 minutes | Apr 21, 2022
Episode 10: Beverly Guy-Sheftall
This episode launches Black Work Talk’s mini-series on Black feminism. Steven Pitts’ co-host for this mini-series is Sheri Davis, Associate Director, Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO) at Rutgers University. We talk with Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Professor of Women's Studies and English at Spelman College. Beverly has been at the center of most developments of Black feminist thought since the mid-1970s and her anthology, Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, is a foundational collection. During this episode, the three of us discussed the interconnection of oppressions (around race, gender, class, sexual identity) which is at the core of Black feminism. We also talked about the power of Black feminist approach to increase the quality of worker organizing.
74 minutes | Apr 7, 2022
Episode 9: Mariame Kaba
In this episode of Black Work Talk, Steven Pitts and his co-host, Toussaint Losier, talk with Mariame Kaba. Mariame is one of this country’s leading abolitionist thinkers and practitioners. She has founded several projects organizing around abolitionist principles including Project NIA. Many of her writings on abolition are collected in a recent book, “We Do This ‘Til We Free Us”. We talk about Mariame’s definition of abolition and what might account for the increased interest in abolition. Later, we move to talk about various abolition campaigns from around the country and close by examining political strategies needed to build a world without various forms of organized state violence.
65 minutes | Mar 24, 2022
Episode 8: NTanya Lee
In this episode of Black Work Talk, Steven Pitts and his co-host, Toussaint Losier talk with NTanya Lee, National Secretary of LeftRoots, a national organization of social movement organizers and activists. We began by reviewing the landscape of the Black Left today and continued by discussing the distinctions between the Black Left and Black Lives Matter activism. We later talked about the need for a liberatory strategy so as to better support current activists and better achieve gains that allow us to improve the Black working class lives today AND build power for tomorrow. We closed by discussing how LeftRoots sees itself in the broader Black movement organizational ecosystem and some of its current work.
69 minutes | Mar 7, 2022
Episode 7: Bianca Cunningham
In this episode of Black Work Talk, Steven Pitts and his co-host, Toussaint Losier, talk with Bianca Cunningham, Campaign Director at the Action Center on Race and the Economy and a co-founder of the Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus of DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America. The three of us began the episode by exploring different dimensions of the war in Ukraine. We continued with Bianca elaborating on why she thought socialism was the way to best address the issue of structural racism. Later, she spoke about the need to re-imagine community safety and provided examples of how strong relationships among community members could solve “safety” issues without resorting to the use of the police. Finally, she detailed the efforts of DSA members who are state legislators in New York, who employ a two-prong approach to building power: operating as a socialist caucus in the New York State Legislature and delivering constituent services in New York City in ways that actually organize residents instead of the residents becoming passive service recipients.
60 minutes | Feb 23, 2022
Episode 6: Lester Spence
In this sixth episode of Black Work Talk’s Season Two, Steven Pitts and his co-host, Toussaint Losier, talk with Lester Spence, Professor of Political Science at the Johns Hopkins University. We began the episode by defining the Black Left and power. We spoke about the changes in Black politics because of the advent of neoliberalism. We also had a long conversation about policing and we used that issue as a way to explore the complicated issues of power-building, the value of cross-class Black alliances, and the value of cross-race class alliances. We closed by examining the role of the Black Left in this time period.
31 minutes | Feb 15, 2022
Episode 5: Toussaint Losier
In this fifth episode of Black Work Talk’s Season Two, Steven Pitts talks with Toussaint Losier, his co-host for the second mini-series of Black Work Talk on the Black Left. Toussaint is professor in the African American Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. During this episode, we previewed the mini-series by presenting our definitions of the Black Left; discussing the importance of organizations and institutions to expanding the power and influence of the Black Left; and outlining some of the key challenges facing the Black Left.
55 minutes | Feb 8, 2022
Episode 4: Will Jones
In this fourth episode of Black Work Talk’s Season Two, co-hosts Steven Pitts and Bill Fletcher talk with Will Jones. Will is Professor of History at the University of Minnesota. His particular emphasis is understanding the relationship between race and class in the United States during the 20th Century. His 2013 book, “The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights,” examined the role of Black labor leaders in the 1963 March on Washington and was the basis for our conversation. Beyond understanding how Black unionists were a key to the mobilization of 250,000 marchers to DC, Will discussed how this success was a function of the power of their union and their relationship with a variety of organizations in the Black community. We talked about the relevance of this insight for organizing and mobilizing today and winning durable victories. Here is a link to the publisher webpage about Will’s book: https://wwnorton.com/books/the-march-on-washington/ Here is an article by Will that captures some of his main points detailed in the book: Will Jones "The Forgotten Radical History of the March on Washington (Dissent Magazine)
40 minutes | Jan 25, 2022
Episode 3: Bert Bayou
In this third episode of Black Work Talk’s Season Two, co-hosts Steven Pitts and Bill Fletcher talk with Bert Bayou. Bert is DC Chapter Director of African Communities Together (ACT) and Vice President of UNITE HERE Local 23. ACT is an organization of African immigrants with chapters in Washington DC and New York. ACT provides services and organizes for power. Local 23 represents airport workers in 10 cities across the United States. We talked about Bert’s work in both organizations and it appeared that in DC, there was a great deal of overlap between the two organizations. African immigrants (mainly Ethiopian immigrants) are a large portion of the workforce at National and Dulles Airports and prior to significant worker engagement, organizers went to great length to understand the conditions of the workers in their communities. This community-orientation was important as voter engagement work was done in the 2020 Presidential Election and runoff race in Georgia. Bert also spoke of the devastating impact of the pandemic on members on the job and in their communities. African Communities Together UNITE HERE Local 23
54 minutes | Jan 12, 2022
Episode 2: April Verrett
In this second episode of Black Work Talk’s Season Two, co-hosts Steven Pitts and Bill Fletcher talk with April Verrett. April is president of SEIU 2015, a union of 400,000 long-term caregivers in California. April talked about the importance of Democracy Schools the union operated to engage members in basic political governance activities at the local level. These schools were an important campaign that activates members regardless of their political identifications. One key outcome of these schools was building bridges across partisan divides. April also spoke of the importance of combining a sharp analysis of corporate power with an understanding of how race impacts everything. For more information on SEIU 2015, see: SEIU 2015 April mentioned SEIU Racial Justice Center; here is the link to this information: SEIU's Racial Justice Center
61 minutes | Nov 17, 2021
Season 2 Premiere: Rob Baril
In this first episode of Black Work Talk’s Season Two, co-hosts Steven Pitts and Bill Fletcher talk with Rob Baril. Rob is the president of SEIU 1199NE, a union of health care workers in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Rob talked about how members of SEIU 1199NE have been fighting state officials in Connecticut for better working conditions during the pandemic. He indicated this fight not only won concrete victories but also strengthened the union for future battles. In addition, the various union campaigns allowed the union to build additional power and wield this power around a several issues facing members in the community include policing issues. For more information on SEIU 1199NE, see SEIU 1199NE Rob mentioned the Bargaining of the Common Good framework; here is the link to the network’s website Bargaining for the Common Good Bill mentioned the St Louis Teamsters’ Community Steward Program in the 60s. Bob Bussel of the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon has written a fascinating book on the experiences of the Teamster local that developed this program (and others). Here is an interview with Bob about his book: Interview with Bob Bussel, author of Fighting for Total Person Unionism
9 minutes | Nov 10, 2021
Season 2: Trailer
In preparation for the Season Two of Black Work Talk, podcast host Steven Pitts got together with the four co-hosts of the new season: Bill Fletcher; Lauren Jacobs; Sheri Davis; and Toussaint Losier. In this trailer, they discussed the challenges facing the Left in 2022. Season Two launches Wednesday, November 17.
12 minutes | Oct 27, 2021
Season 2: Preview
Season Two of Black Work Talk will launch on November 17. In this Preview Episode, host Steven Pitts reviews Season One highlighting the reality that Black workers are impacted by race and class and debates within the movement over the primacy of one over the other are not just fruitless, but counter-productive. His review concludes by discuss the need for more power on the part of the Left in order to reduce the probability of an Insurrection 2.0 and maximize the probability of achieving the agenda of progressives in Congress. Pitts also previews Season Two which will be organized around four mini-series: Black labor, the Black Left, Black feminism, and power-building. The overarching question animating the entire season is: why is there a gap between the power of Black activists and "real existing" power.
Terms of Service
Your Privacy Choices
© Stitcher 2023