The American People Archive. Walter Reuther, UAW United Auto Workers Union Leader. 1968
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Detroit's manufacturing base arose when the Henry Ford Company first mass produced cars, which attracted and sustained a large labor force. During the second "World War" when Detroit became "The Arsenal of Democracy" - low income Americans, that suffered the most during the Great Depression (caused by the Federal Reserve secretly withdrawing a quarter of the currency from the marketplace) - migrated from all across America to live in temporary "housing projects" made of asbestos, and to work in factories converted to war production. Walter Reuther became the auto industry labor leader who literally put his life at stake for the auto workers, who were always over worked and underpaid, and established the politically powerful (UAW) Union Of Auto Workers.
During War 2, my family migrated from the cotton fields of east Texas, and along with the Oakies, and the Blacks from the deep south, came in great numbers to Detroit and worked side by side in an integrated labor force protected under the fairness policies of the labor union - which fought to advance civil rights for all Americans.
My father became an elected labor leader in the auto factory where he worked - and I grew up on the lower east side of Detroit where the factories were located, and played with kids of all races and nationalities without racial friction. I always admired that my father was willing to put his life on the line by speaking the truth without fear, being fair and having the courage to stand and fight for what was right for everyone.
In 1968, I had the opportunity to meet with Walter Reuther as he addressed the annual UAW convention in Detroit, and make this documentary portrait during his rallying speech.
Also by Alwyn Scott Turner
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