Michael Honey undertook more than fifty oral histories of black and white workers and labor and civil rights organizers for his first book, Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights (1993). Without people’s stories, he could not tell a story that did not exist on the printed page. Inspired by the work of Theodore Rosengarten, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, and Nell Irvin Painter, he continued on with black worker interviews. In Black Workers Remember (1999), workers tell their own story, mediated by the “shared authority” of the historian. He did more interviews and drew extensively on scores of oral histories done by others located at the Sanitation Strike papers of the Mississippi Valley Collection at the University of Memphis, for Going Down Jericho Road (2007). Pete Seeger introduced Honey to John Handcox, the renowned Southern Tenant Farmer’s Union organizer and African American singer John Handcox who people had disappeared from history since the 1930s, resulting in the book, Sharecroppers’ Troubadour, and recordings of his songs. Some of these works and writing and audio clips can be explored here. He has taught oral history skills to generations of students at the University of Washington Tacoma (see link below).

Here are six podcasts to listen to in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Smithsonian Folkways Magazine, Sharecropper's Troubadour, Songs of Solidarity in Hard Times

University of Washington historian Michael Honey learned about folk singer and union organizer John Handcox through a mutual friend whose name might be familiar: Pete Seeger.

Dr. Honey on News Beat Podcast, "MLK's Last Month: Memphis"

Dr. Michael Honey on the News Beat podcast, discussing Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s last month in Memphis. 

UWT library publications profile

Michael Honey teaches and writes about labor and civil rights history and the work and nonviolent philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Honey has published five books and edited a book of King's labor speeches; has won the Robert F. Kennedy and numerous other book awards; and is a Guggenheim fellow and recipient of other academic awards. Honey is a founder of UWT, former holder of the Harry Bridges Chair in Labor Studies for the University of Washigton and current holder of the Fred and Dorothy Haley Humanities Professorship at UWT.

Keeping history alive with a digital library collection

Many of Honey’s southern labor studies oral histories are available at the Southern Oral History Collection at the University of North Carolina, here.

Michael K. Honey, University of North Carolina Oral History collection

Labor: Michael Honey Collection on Southern Labor, 1981-1998.

Tacoma Community History Project

Remarkably little Tacoma community has been written. Honey’s community history classes taught for more than 25 years produced more than 70 oral histories of people in the Tacoma and South Puget Sound community. It provides one of the community’s most important history primary research sources.

Book highlights struggle world forgot as "Black Workers Remember" visits labor veterans - Bob Roseth, University Week: March 30, 2000

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Tacoma Professor Tells The Story Of The 'Sharecropper's Troubadour'

by Ashley Gross

The movie "12 Years A Slave" has made clear the extent of the brutality slaves had to endure before emancipation. But life in the segregationist south up until the civil rights movement was, in many ways, not much better than during slavery.

Freedom After While - No More Mourning by John Handcox

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