A new book about the Charleston Five, the controversial group of longshoremen who went on strike only to face political and economic pressures, has been published by the Monthly Review Press. It’s called On the Global Waterfront: The Fight to Free the Charleston Five. Will Moredock, our political columnist, sent us this review. There will be a reception for the authors and a book signing of On the Global Waterfront at ILA headquarters, 1142 Morrison Drive, Feb. 9, 4-7 p.m. The public is welcome. —J.S.
A new book chronicles the Charleston Five
By Will Moredock
On the Global Waterfront: The Fight to Free the Charleston Five
By Suzan Erem and E. Paul Durrenberger
Monthly Review Press, 224 pages, $17.95
When 660 police officers charged striking dockworkers near the International Longshoreman’s Association hall on a chilly January night in 2000, it was perhaps the most dramatic confrontation this city has seen since the cannons fired on Fort Sumter.
This is the story of ILA Local 1422, the overwhelmingly black union and the most powerful black organization in South Carolina, and how the forces of global trade and homegrown racism nearly destroyed it.
It’s also a powerful insight into the way politics and business work together in S.C., often to the detriment of democracy and economic development.
Like dockworkers everywhere, ILA 1422 had taken a beating in recent decades as international shipping industry had gone to “containerization,” eliminating tens of thousands of high-paying union jobs.
On the tumultuous night in question, a number of heads were cracked by flailing night sticks, including that of Local 1422 president Ken Riley. There were also five arrests out of the 150-odd ILA members who were on strike.
This is a story you won’t get in any public school history books or any downtown history tours. It’s the story of black people standing up to the white establishment. It’s the story of demagoguery and political manipulation. It’s the story of South Carolina brought into the 21st century.
Full story . . .