Radicals in Wisconsin: An Oral History Project

Next Oral History Volunteer Meeting

We love having new volunteers! We are still in need of interviewers, transcribers or social media maintenance.

Email to colinrgillis at gmail dot com.

What is the Radical Oral History Project?

The Oral History Project is a work in progress. We are establishing a program where volunteers interview local residents about radical histories of Madison and Wisconsin. We will be starting with interviews from the Madison Tenants Union and the Madison InfoShop, but we are open to suggestions of collecting stories from other radical movements.

The Madison InfoShop

“…InfoShop’s are just one manifestation of a much bigger social change movement” John P.  is a longtime Madison activist, community organizer and volunteer at the InfoShop. He has seen the evolution of the InfoShop since 1992, when it first opened.

There was really a big campus and Madison community building period there where there was getting to be a lot of radicalization and a lot of mobilization on both local and global issues that just crashed after September 11” Interview with Kurt by SLIS student Sara C.

A lot of great ideas are kind of born here, not only from our collective members but people who use the space…kind of like a radical think tank”   Interview with Tops about her past 5 years at the InfoShop

We lost our funding from the university in a rather controversial slue of defundings...” Interview with John M.

History of Radical Rural Politics in the Midwest series – spring 2012

Below are some recordings from each of the Spring 2012 History of Radical Rural Politics in the Midwest series held at Rainbow Bookstore (in bold).

*Note* At some points the volume fades out due to the equipment that we are using (a small digital recorder), but we hope you can enjoy the discussions.

Thurs. Jan 19th  – Introduction and Overview (MP3)

Thurs. Feb. 2nd  – 1890s Loggers Strike in the North Woods (MP3)

Thurs. Feb. 16th  – WWI Labor Unrest on the Iron Range (WMA file)

Thurs. March 1st – Wisconsin Milk Strike of 1933 (MP3)

Thurs. March 15th  – Farmworker Organizing in the Fields of WI and the Bogs of MI (MP3)

Thurs. March 29th – 1970s Powerline Revolt in Minnesota (MP3)

Thurs. April 12th – Hormel Meatpackers Strike of 1985 (MP3)

Thurs. April 26th  –Crandon Mine Fight in WI (MP3)

The facilitator of this series, John Peck, wrote a summary of the series for the of it for the 2013 Dis-Orientation Manual that can be found here:


Here are the readings for the Crandon Mine discussion:

The Crandon Mine Saga – Douglas J. Buege, Z Magazine, Feb. 2004

Crandon Mine Victory in Wisconsin Won by Historic Alliance – Debra McNutt and Zoltan Grossman, Earth First Journal, Brigid 2004

Corporate Strategies for Overcoming Local Resistance to New Mining Projects – Al Gedicks, UW-La Crosse

Thurs. May 10th – 2011 Solidarity Tractorcade and the Cheddar Uprising

Joel Greeno, Making A Statement with Our Tractors, Other Voices, May 9, 2011

And here is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage of the rally:

Which is a bit different from that in the Wisconsin State Farmer:

Here is the speech of Tony Schultz, from YouTube:

Here is a short YOuTube video interview with Joel Greeno, tractorcade organizer:

Here is a link to a 30 minute video on the Tractorcade produced by Max Balhorn of Macalester College:   http://vimeo.com/22138939

Thurs. May 24th – Wrap-up and Conclusion

A follow-up History of Radical Urban Politics in the Midwest series was then held at Rainbow Bookstore.  Here is the discussion outline for that series:

Free Women, Wobblies and Brown Berets – Fall 2012 Discussion Series on the History of Radical Urban Politics in the Midwest

Every Other Thurs. 7:00 pm Rainbow Bookstore (426 W. Gilman) Sept. 6th – Dec. 20th

In this free community discussion series, co-hosted by Rainbow Bookstore and the Madison Infoshop, we’ll explore historic episodes of radical urban political protest in the Midwest.  What were the conditions that led poor tenants, workers, immigrants, and urban youth to challenge ruling elites in such ways?  Which strategies were successful?  How can we draw upon this legacy and build more effective grassroots coalitions for our organizing today?

Thurs. Sept. 6th – Introduction and Overview

Thurs. Sept. 20th – 1894 Hay Market Riot in Chicago, Milwaukee’s Bay View Massacre

Thurs. Oct. 4th – Birth of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Chicago 1905

Thurs. Oct. 18th – Lucy Parsons, Jane Addams, Emma Goldman & Friends

Thurs. Nov. 1st – 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike vs Right Wing Citizen’s Alliance

Thurs. Nov. 15th – Father Groppi, Civil Rights, and the 1967 “Race Riot” in Milwaukee

Thurs. Nov. 29th – Young Lords, American Indian Movement (AIM), Black Panthers

Thurs. Dec. 6th – “Urban Renewal,” Tenant Rights, and Isaiah 5:8 Committee in Madison

Thurs. Dec. 20th – Wrap-up and Conclusion

Below are links to some of the suggested readings:

Hay Market & Bayview Massacre (9/20/12)

Elmer, Jerry. “The Hay Market Affair and the Origins of May Day.” Truth Out. May 1st, 2012.  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8834-the-haymarket-affair-and-the-origins-of-may-day

Milwaukee Free Press. “Bay View Labor Riot of 1886.” July 3, 1910. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/wlhba/articleView.asp?pg=1&orderby=&id=9394&pn=1&key=&cy=

Lucy Parsons, Jane Addams, and Emma Goldman session (10/18/12):

To Tramps
By; Lucy Parson, Alarm, 10/4/1884

A Fury For Justice – Lucy Parsons and the Revolutionary Anarchist Movement in Chicago
By: Jacob Leary, 10/17/2006

Emma Does Madison – article in Cheese Head Wisconsin, Historical Adventures in the Badger State V. #1
By: Madison Infoshop, 8/2008

The Nancy Grace of Her Time? – Jane Addams Was Controversial and Independent-Minded
By: Ruth Graham, Slate, 11/9/2010

And not to overwhelm folks with Lucy Parsons (though I think she is an amazing figure!), here is another more recent look at her politics:

“I am an Anarchist”: The Social Anarchism of Lucy E. Parsons
By:  Willie J. Harrell Jr., Journal of International Women’s Studies, 3/2012

Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934 (11/1/12)

Blantz, Thomas E. “Father Haas and the Minneapolis Truckers Strike of 1934.” Minnesota History. Spring 1970. http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/42/v42i01p005-015.pdf

Quam. Lois, and Peter J. Rachleff. “Keeping Minneapolis an Open-Shop Town: The Citizen’s Alliance in the 1930s.” Minnesota History. Fall 1986. http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/50/v50i03p105-117.pdf

AIM, Brown Berets, and Black Panthers session (11/29/12):
Jeffries, Judson.  “From Gang Bangers to Urban Revolutionaries – Young Lords in Chicago.”  Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (Autumn 2003) http://dig.lib.niu.edu/ISHS/ishs-2003autumn/ishs-2003autumn288.pdf

Cohen, Fay.  “The Indian Patrol in Minneapolis: Social Control and Social Change in an Urban Context.”  Law and Society Review (Summer 1973).  pp. 779-786

Newton, Huey. “War Against The Panthers: A Study Of Repression In America.”  PhD dissertation, Univ. of CA – Santa Cruz.  June 1980.

And for those who like oral history projects, here is a link to a great collection of recorded interviews with Young Lord activists and allies:  http://cdm16015.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/collection/p16015coll6/order/title/ad/desc/page/2


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