Maida Springer was an active participant in shaping a history that involved powerful movements for social, political and economic equality and justice for workers women, and African Americans. Maida Springer is the first full-length biography to document and analyze the central role played by Springer in international affairs, particularly in the formation of AFL-CIO’s African policy during the Cold War and African independence movements.
Richards explores the ways in which pan-Africanism, racism, sexism and anti-Communism affected Springer’s political development, her labor activism, and her relationship with labor leaders in the AFL-CIO, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), and in African unions. Springer’s life experiences and work reveal the complex nature of black struggles for equality and justice. A strong supporter of both the AFL-CIO and the ICFTU, Springer nonetheless recognized that both organizations were fraught with racism, sexism, and ethnocentrism. She also understood that charges of Communism were often used as a way to thwart African American demands for social justice. As an African-American, she found herself in the unenviable position of promoting to Africans the ideals of American democracy from which she was excluded from fully enjoying.
Richards’s biography of Maida Springer uniquely connects pan-Africanism, national and international labor relations, the Cold War, and African American, labor, women’s, and civil rights histories. In addition to documenting Springer’s role in international labor relations, the biography provides a larger view of a whole range of political leaders and social movements. Maida Springer is a stirring biography that spans the fields of women studies, African American studies, and labor history.