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Blair LM Kelley explores the rich history of the working class in her book, 'Black Folk'

Blair LM Kelley smiles at the camera, sitting on an unseen stool and wears a black long-sleeved top.
Blair LM Kelley
Blair LM Kelley is the first Black woman to serve as the director for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-director of Southern Futures.

Asking questions about someone’s past doesn’t often lead to an award-winning book, but that's how it unfolded for Blair LM Kelley. She wrote the book Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class about Black laborers, a group that has been historically underrepresented in narratives about the American working class.

Kelley, who has a doctorate in history, is the director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina, and she is the first Black woman to serve in that role. Kelley spoke with In Black America producer and host John L. Hanson Jr. about how her family history inspired her to write her second book, how Black laborers became the working class and Black women's role in labor unionization.

In Black America originally interviewed Kelley in December.

John L. Hanson is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series In Black America. It’s heard on home station KUT at 10 p.m. Tuesdays and 6:30 a.m. Sundays — and weekly on close to 20 stations across the country. The weekly podcast of IBA, the only nationally broadcast Black-oriented public affairs radio program, is one of KUT’s most popular podcasts.
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