Crossways: the Intersection Between Racialized Railroads and Racial Equity in the Workplace

Olivia Morris-Bush, Carol Street, Special Collections Research Center (Learning Lab), University of Kentucky 40506

Despite government policies and laws that condemn racial discrimination in the workplace, this does not mean that discussions and ideas for improving racial equity in the workplace cease to exist. When discrimination in the workplace occurs, individuals and unions can represent marginalized employees' interests. The letters from Thomas Redd (1891-1941), an African American railroad worker who was involved in the Colored Brakeman of the Kentucky Division of the Road union and the co-founder of the Association of Colored Railway Trainmen and Locomotive Firemen (ACRT) brings awareness to how African Americans had to advocate through unions to have their grievances and concerns heard by the Illinois Central Railroad Company (IC) leadership. 

The intent of this project is to explore how the racialized landscape of the IC can be uncovered by analyzing the racialized language of Thomas Redd's letters from the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center and Cornell University's Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives. By conducting a qualitative analysis of the racialized language used by Redd to describe how IC African American employees endured racial discrimination will reveal the racial dynamics of the IC workplace environment. Thomas Redd used his persuasive writing skills and leadership position in the Colored Brakeman of the Kentucky Division of the Road as a means of advocacy that brought visibility to African Americans IC employees that did not have the privilege to challenge acts of racial discrimination. After a qualitative analysis of Redd's letters' racialized language, there will be a need to compare Redd's recommendations for a racially equitable work environment to current employment policies related to racial discrimination and anti-racism. 


Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Olivia Morris-Bush

Institution: University of Kentucky

Type: Poster

Subject: Diversity Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 5
Date/Time: Tue 12:30pm-1:30pm
Session Number: 4077