Friends’ labor history series looks back on ‘World in Turmoil’

May is labor history month, and for the last 18 years, the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library have marked the occasion with a series of labor-related programs in the city’s libraries and union halls.

The award-winning “Untold Stories” series will continue this May, with an appropriately severe theme for the dawn of the Trump era: “A World in Turmoil: 1917-2017.” All programs are free and open to the public.

Workers’ Memorial Event, April 26, 7 p.m., St. Paul Labor Center, 353 W. 7th St. Panelists will explore workplace safety issues in advance of the national commemoration, held April 28. They include labor historian John Sielaff; workers’ comp attorney Mike Scully; and Phil Qualy, director of the UTU Minnesota Legislative Board.

David Noble Lecture with Roderick Ferguson, May 2, 7 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis. Presented by the University of Minnesota Department of American Studies, the annual lecture honors a groundbreaking professor in the field whose work offers fresh perspectives on our history and culture. Ferguson, a faculty member at the University of Illinois, will present “The Bookshop of Black Queer Diaspora.”

1917 – A Look Back, May 3, 7 p.m., Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice St. Panelists will travel back in time to 1917 for a look at politics and labor, from the nonpartisan league and the women’s suffrage movement to the Twin Cities streetcar strike.

Nativism and Resistance – Then and Now, May 9, 7 p.m., East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St. Freedom Library co-director Peter Rachleff will discuss how business and political leaders promoted nativism in World War I-era Minnesota as a means to squelch the labor movement and its farmer allies, followed by a conversation about the re-emergence of anti-immigrant fears today.

“Racism in our Hometown,” May 15, 7 p.m., ESFL, 1105 Greenbrier St. Presented by the APWU Solidarity Kids Theater, this multi-media puppet show introduces the family of Arthur and Edith Lee, who moved into an all-white neighborhood in 1931. Arthur’s union coworkers at the Minneapolis Post Office, most of whom were white, protected his family when police failed to stop racist mobs trying to force him from his home.

100 Years at the Library, May 16, 7 p.m., St. Anthony Park Library, 2245 Como Ave. Speakers will describe the St. Paul Public Library as it appeared 100 years ago, from one of four Carnegie libraries in the city celebrating a centennial.

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, May 16, 6 p.m., Rondo Community Outreach Library, 461 N. Dale St. Professors William Jones, Yuichiro Onishi and James Robinson will paint a portrait of the early history of the Brotherhood, from the participation of A. Philip Randolph to the Brotherhood’s presence in St. Paul.

Payne Avenue Walking Tour and Library Celebration, May 21, 10:30 a.m., Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Ave. Rachleff will lead a tour of the East Side artery, ending the walk at another library celebrating its centennial. Space is limited; reservations are required at

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