‘Untold Stories’ series to celebrate labor history with free public events

untold-stories-header12Untold Stories, the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library’s annual labor-history series, will focus this year on the struggles facing workers in the past and how they influence the issues of today.

The free, public programs begin April 22 and wrap up May 14. A full programming guide is available on the Friends’ website.

April events include:

• “Pete Daniel – Dispossession.” April 22, 7 p.m. Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd.

Pete Daniel, a past president of the Organization of American Historians and a retired curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, will speak about his recent book “Dispossession: Discrimination Against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights.”

Between 1940 and 1974, the number of African American farmers fell from 681,790 to just 45,594 – a drop of 93 percent. Daniel analyzes this decline and chronicles black farmers’ fierce struggles to remain on the land in the face of discrimination.

After Daniel’s presentation, Pakou Hang of the Hmong American Farmers Association and Dale Wiehoff from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy will talk about current struggles of small farmers to keep their land.

• “From Low Wage to Middle Class?” April 28, 7 p.m. St. Paul Labor Centre, 411 Main St.

Workers in retail, home care, warehousing, the restaurant industry and other parts of the modern economy are only the latest in a long line of employees rising up to claim that “working” and “poor” should never be in the same sentence. This program will examine how today’s workers are fighting to make a living in their service-sector jobs. It also will consider how fields such as nursing and teaching turned their professions from low-wage jobs into middle-class careers.

Panelists will include representatives from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Working America, Child Care Providers Together, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers and the Minnesota Nurses Association.

• “Bdote Memory Map” April 30, 7 p.m. Rondo Community Outreach Library, 461 N. Dale St.

Mona Smith, a Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota storyteller and media artist, will discuss her creation of a “memory map” of the bdote area of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. This bdote, a place where two waters come together, is central to Dakota spirituality and history.

Her online map is viewable online. It contains a series of sites that have special meaning to the Dakota people.

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