Research

I study social change.

It’s often hard to summarize what I do in scholarly circles.  As noted on the home page, I work at the intersection of several sub-fields: modern U.S., African American, Chicano/a-Latino/a, and labor histories.  The connective tissue is a concern for social change, social movements, and above all the nuts-and-bolts activism that gets us there.  Perhaps I should also say simply that I study the history of community organizing and coalition building.  These research interests, regardless of what I call them, are somewhat unusual in that they require that I extensively use oral history and that I am an active participant in present-day social and political struggles.  Everything else flows from there.

Blue Texas: The Making of a Multiracial Democratic Coalition in the Civil Rights Era

This book is about the other Texas, not the state known for its cowboy conservatism, but a mid-twentieth-century hotbed of community organizing, liberal politics, and civil rights activism. Blue Texas cov4Beginning in the 1930s, Max Krochmal tells the story of the decades-long struggle for democracy in Texas, when African American, Mexican American, and white labor and community activists gradually came together to empower the state’s marginalized minorities. At the ballot box and in the streets, these diverse activists demanded not only integration but economic justice, labor rights, and real political power for all. Their efforts gave rise to the Democratic Coalition of the 1960s, a militant, multiracial alliance that would take on and eventually overthrow both Jim Crow and Juan Crow.

Using rare archival sources and original oral history interviews, Krochmal reveals the often-overlooked democratic foundations and liberal tradition of one of our nation’s most conservative states. Blue Texas remembers the many forgotten activists who, by crossing racial lines and building coalitions, democratized their cities and state to a degree that would have been unimaginable just a decade earlier–and it shows why their story still matters today.

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Civil Rights in Black and Brown Oral History Project

Not one but two civil rights movements flourished in mid-twentieth century Texas, and they did so in intimate conversation with one another. While most research on American race relations has utilized a binary analytical lens—examining either “black” vs. “white” or “Anglo” vs. “Mexican”—Civil Rights in Black and Brown collects, interprets, and disseminates new oral history interviews with members of all three groups.

cropped-civilrightsbb-colorfinal.jpgWith support from a National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research Grant as well as private funding, project faculty and staff are conducting interviews in twenty interviews across Texas, in every major city and in smaller towns from Amarillo in the Panhandle to El Paso in far west Texas, from the Rio Grande Valley and the piney woods of Deep East Texas.

Our website, the Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database, is a publicly accessible, free, and user-friendly multimedia digital humanities website that provides digital video clips from the interviews to researchers as well as teachers, journalists, and the general public. Rather than simply streaming full interviews or displaying transcripts, this site indexes short clips and embeds a number of detailed thematic metadata codes and tags. End users are able to easily search for detailed subject information across the entire interview collection and add their own tags to help future users.  For more information, visit crbb.tcu.edu or “Like” the project on Facebook.

The UCAPAWA Project

I am working on a collaborative research project co-directed with Erik Gellman of Roosevelt University and Jarod Roll of the University of Mississippi: a national synthetic history of the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packinghouse, and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA) of the 1930s and its successor organization of the 1940s, the Food, Tobacco, and Allied Workers of America (FTA).

We plan to hold a symposium at Ole Miss in Spring 2018.

Articles & Book Chapters

“San Antonio Chicano Organizers (SACO): Labor Activists and El Movimiento,” in The Chicano Movement: Perspectives from the Twenty-First Century, ed. Mario T. Garcia (Routledge, 2014).

“Chicano Labor and Multiracial Politics in Post-World War II Texas: Two Case Studies,” in Life and Labor in the New New South, ed. Robert H. Zieger (University Press of Florida, 2012).  Digital reprint by permission of the University Press of Florida.

An Unmistakably Working-Class Vision: Birmingham’s Foot Soldiers and Their Civil Rights Movement,” Journal of Southern History LXXVI, no. 4 (November 2010): 923-960.

“Connecting to Activists and the Public through the Civil Rights in Black and Brown Oral History Project,” LAWCHA Watch column in Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 13, no. 3-4 (August/November 2016). Forthcoming.

“Larry Goodwyn, Texas, and Me,” chapter in book edited by Wesley Hogan and Paul Ortiz, submitted to editors in preparation for University of North Carolina Press.

Op-Eds & Media

 

Conference Papers, Invited Talks, Public Presentations, etc.

See News & Events

Past Talks & Events archive (prior to summer 2016)

Fellowships and External Grants

Summerlee Fellowship in Texas History, Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, 2013-2014, $45,500.

National Endowment for the Humanities, Collaborative Research Grant, $200,000, 2015-2018, for Civil Rights in Black and Brown: Oral Histories of the Multiracial Freedom Struggle in Texas, 1954 – Present (principal investigator). Awarded September 2015.

Private gift, Summerlee Foundation, Dallas, for “Civil Rights in Black and Brown: Oral Histories of the Multiracial Freedom Struggle in Texas, 1954-Present,” $40,000.  Awarded September 2014 for two-year project.

Private gift, Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, for “Civil Rights in Black and Brown: Oral Histories of the Multiracial Freedom Struggle in Texas, 1954-Present,” $100,000.  Awarded and received June 2014.

Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grant program, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and American Library Association, grant in collaboration with the City of Fort Worth, $10,000, September 2015 (sub-contracted services to Civil Rights in Black and Brown, ~$5,000).

Post-Doctoral Fellowship, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney (Australia), 2011-2012, $86,000 AUD. Declined.

Alternate, Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 2010-2011.

Walter Rundell Research Award, Western History Association, 2010, $1,500

Trennert-Iverson Conference Scholarship, Western History Association, 2010, $750

Future Projects

I have a long list of possible future book projects.  They include:

  • A community study of race, space, and privatization in Fort Worth
  • A People’s History of Texas in the Zinn tradition, from the beginning to the present
  • A history of life and labor along the Texas-Mexico border since the 1960s
  • A history of race, labor, and politics in the NFL Players Association since its inception