RFKHR Book Club—Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class by Blair LM Kelley

Join us for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Book Club Conversation at 1 pm EDT/10 am PT on July 23. We host these virtual gatherings as features of our summer reading list to engage our members, amplify social justice activists,  authors, and journalists, and provide a deep dive into our work.

Our July Book Club features the recipient of the 2024 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Book Award, Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class by Blair LM Kelley. This work spans two hundred years―from one of Kelley’s earliest known ancestors, an enslaved blacksmith, to the essential workers of the Covid-19 pandemic―highlighting the lives of the laundresses, Pullman porters, domestic maids, and postal workers who established the Black working class as a force in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As her narrative moves from Georgia to Philadelphia, Florida to Chicago, Texas to Oakland, Kelley treats Black workers not just as laborers, or members of a class, or activists, but as people whose daily experiences mattered―to themselves, to their communities, and to a nation that denied that basic fact. With the resurgence of labor activism in our own time, Black Folk presents a stirring history of our possible future.

We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday, July 23, 2024.

Meet the Author 

Blair LM Kelley, Professor at University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

Blair LM Kelley, Ph.D. is an award-winning author, historian, and scholar of the African American experience. A dedicated public historian, Kelley works to amplify the histories of Black people, chronicling the everyday impact of their activism. Kelley is currently the Joel R. Williamson Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the director of the Center for the Study of the American South, the first Black woman to serve in that role in the center’s thirty-year history.

Kelley received her B.A. from the University of Virginia in History and African and African American Studies. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in History, and graduate certificates in African and African American Studies and Women’s Studies at Duke University.