John Henry, et. al.

As the whatever you want to call this continues, those of us who can are accessing our back files (the “way back” in my case) on American history and the complicated and tragic legacy of race, class and gender in this country. The two big questions to be asked are: How did we get here from there?; and What happens next? Yesterday’s Jeremy Grantham article shed some interesting light from an otherwise unfamiliar (to me) perspective on the political and economic disenfranchisement of America’s working and middle classes since the 1970s.

The Grantham article triggered an email conversation between me and a college friend, an historian who specializes in late 19th Century U.S. politics. I’ve also been trying to interpret journalistic and anecdotal accounts of last Saturday’s [01/21/17] global Women’s March, specifically to parse the various strains of a movement that is being characterized by gender, but which may find (and generate) additional value as it moves forward by looking beyond that border. I’ve been writing about that last point since before the election, and will continue to refine my thoughts. Your thoughts (in the comments), of course, are appreciated.

Depiction of John Henry
Depiction of John Henry

“According to legend, John Henry‘s prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam-powered hammer, a race he won, only to die in victory with his hammer in his hand as his heart gave out from stress.”

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