David Hamilton Golland, Ph.D.

In the News


Choice Reviews

10/19: Review of A Terrible Thing to Waste
11/11: Review of Constructing Affirmative Action

GSU News

8/21/19: GSU Sets Aside a Common Hour to Build Community
5/13/19: David Golland's New Book Explores the Life of a Black Republican Civil Rights Leader
2/6/18: David Hamilton Golland answers: "Why Vote?"
11/6/17: University Examines Rise of Hate Speech
5/19/17: Doctoral Hooding Celebrates Future Leaders
1/19/17: David Hamilton Golland

The New York Times

6/16/04: Torture, Then and Now

Chicago Tribune/Daily Southtown

7/2/18: Experts see potential for weaker unions as result of high court ruling
6/2/18: Civil rights milestone or political theater? Equal Rights Amendment Still Divides Some in the Southland
2/21/18: Southland Residents Join Big Crowds to View "Black Panther"
1/13/17: Obama as symbol of hope, possibility for blacks, key to racial legacy, scholars say
12/23/16: 75 years later, residents share memories of Christmas 1941
2/12/14: If history teachers could time travel...


9/8/17: How Hope Works in the Black Community, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Obama

Labor History

5/29/12: Review of Constructing Affirmative Action

American Historical Review

4/12: Review of Constructing Affirmative Action

Journal of American History

3/12: Review of Constructing Affirmative Action

  Review of A Terrible Thing to Waste
By J. Borchert, Choice Reviews
[Golland's] political biography of Arthur Allen Fletcher (1924–2005) traces his import as a civil rights leader and the growing irrelevance of moderate Republican African Americans. As Deputy Secretary of Labor, Fletcher implemented the 1969 Revised Philadelphia Plan, which provided a comprehensive affirmative action program for highly segregated construction trade unions and federal contractors. While an advocate for government-supported civil rights, his Southwest childhood infused him with a sense of rugged individualism, self-help, and fiscal conservatism. As a Republican he had limited electoral success, losing races for Washington State lieutenant governor and D.C. mayor. He held important presidential appointments including to the United Nations and as Civil Rights Commission Chair (1990–93). As with other black Republican moderates Fletcher faced increasing marginalization as President Nixon implemented his Southern Strategy to attract white racist southerners; with President Reagan’s 1980 election and the rise of white and black conservatives, the process was completed. In 1989 a Republican-controlled Supreme Court largely gutted affirmative action, Fletcher’s most important civil rights contribution. [Golland], who previously authored a book on affirmative action, has produced an important, well-written, and researched study.
Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
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  GSU Sets Aside a Common Hour to Build Community
By GSU News
This year, Governors State University continues a long held tradition of welcoming new and returning students to campus for a new academic year. Convocation highlights will include celebratory speeches, ceremonial marches and awards.

In a break from tradition, the university will launch a new ritual this year – common hour. Beginning in the fall, a new "common hour” will be set aside every Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. to allow students to connect and engage beyond the classroom. Additionally, the new class schedule will create a natural break for lunch every day from 12:50 to 1:30 p.m.

Aurelio Valente, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management...applauded Associate Professor and Faculty Senate President David Golland for advancing the idea of a common period. Golland said a task force of faculty, students, staff, academic administration, and non-academic administration worked on the concept, known as “club hours,” for two years. It was approved by Provost Beth Cada just in time for fall classes.

Golland said he was grateful for Dr. Cada's decision to overhaul the master class schedule. "In doing so, she restored shared governance to this important aspect of university life. Over the next year or two we expect most university committees and councils, as well as most student organizations, to move their meetings into the club hours."
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  David Golland's New Book Explores the Life of a Black Republican Civil Rights Leader
By GSU News
Historian and Professor David Golland chuckles as he reads a line from his new book: “Arthur Fletcher was the most important civil rights leader you've (probably) never heard of.’’

Golland recited a passage to an intimate group gathered outside Governors State University’s E-Lounge. They’ve come to celebrate the publication of Golland’s second book, “A Terrible Thing to Waste: Arthur Fletcher and the Conundrum of the Black Republican.”

In it, Golland recovers the story of a central character often overlooked in historical accounts of the civil rights era.

Fletcher, a Black Republican who served under four Republican administrations, fathered Affirmative Action as President Richard Nixon’s Assistant Secretary of Labor. He was advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, and President George H.W. Bush named him Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

As Executive Director of the United Negro College Fund, Fletcher was key in coining their trademark phase, “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”

An unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in Washington—as the first Black nominee for a statewide office there—drew national attention for the second time in as many decades. In 1950, he had been the first African American to play for the Baltimore Colts football team.

Ironically, during the book-signing reception, GSU Visiting Professor Chris Greiner discovered he’d worked on Fletcher’s 1968 campaign as a child in Washington. Greiner saw Fletcher’s black-and-white campaign poster and was flooded with memories he later shared with Paul Fletcher, Arthur’s son, who flew in from Florida for the event.

Golland discovered Fletcher while he was researching his doctoral dissertation. “Constructing Affirmative Action: The Struggle for Equal Opportunity,” was published in 2011. Though Fletcher’s name commonly came up in documents, there was little recognition.

“Every time I turned around when I was researching, there was Art Fletcher—and yet nobody knew him,’’ Golland said.

For the second book, Golland took a deeper dive into Fletcher’s life and upbringing in segregated Kansas, which inspired his lifelong pursuit of equity and inclusion until his death in 2005.

When asked how his father reconciled being part of a political party that seemed to shun policies and programs that supported African Americans, Paul Fletcher said his father taught him a critical lesson he carries to this day.

“He would say, ‘There is no permanent party, there’s just permanent interests, and ours has to be civil rights.’ So we have to be in both parties.”

Paul Fletcher said he was elated to learn Golland was writing his father’s story, and he encouraged GSU faculty, staff, and students at the reception to keep fighting.

“Governors State University is a political institution, whether you know it or not. Education was the first place we made strides in the civil rights movement,’’ Paul Fletcher said. “We have to keep going. We’re in a battle for the minds of the masses.”

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Arthur Fletcher and the Conundrum of the Black Republican is available in the GSU Library.
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  Experts see potential for weaker unions as result of high court ruling
By Mike Nolan, Daily Southtown
With a U.S. Supreme Court decision seemingly poised to weaken public-sector unions that represent people such as teachers, police officers and firefighters, Vince Griffin is determined to not let that happen on his watch.


David Golland, an associate professor of history at Governors State University in University Park, describes himself as a political and labor historian. He carries a brass retirement card given to his grandfather by the union he worked for "organizing retail shoe employees and getting beat up by security guys in Brookyn in the 1940s."

While organized labor in the private sector has seen a "decline in influence," Golland said "the only area of organized labor that continues to have influence is organized labor in the public sector," with the Supreme Court ruling being "a blow to that."

"It's going to add to the decline of labor organizing strength," he said. "It gets us closer to that borderline in each shop where it is possible union membership could drop below 50 percent" and potentially be decertified.

"When you weaken unions and take away the voice of the organized worker, are there serious dangers we're not thinking of? Golland said.

That was the viewpoint of Justice Elena Kagan.... Read more at ChicagoTribune.Com.
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  Civil rights milestone or political theater? Equal Rights Amendment Still Divides Some in the Southland
By Susan DeMar Lafferty, Daily Southtown
Decades of statewide debate may have ended this week as the Illinois House voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, but what it means for the state and the country is still up in the air.


After decades of effort in Illinois, ratification occurred when equality between genders and race is at the forefront of the national conversation, said David Golland, a Governors State University professor of history and a civil rights historian.

"Passing the ERA after all this would be a wonderful thing for this country to do," he said, but he does not believe it will happen "any time soon." Read more at ChicagoTribune.Com.
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  Southland Residents Join Big Crowds to View "Black Panther"
By Howard Ludwig, Daily Southtown
Suspecting "Black Panther would be popular, Calida Barnes bought her movie tickets three weeks ago. The Flossmoor woman was right.


David Hamilton Golland, of Governors State University, saw the movie on Saturday at the Marcus Theater in Chicago Heights. His showing of "Black Panther" ended with a round of applause from the nearly all-black audience, Golland said.

"I think when movie theater audiences applaud, they do it for each other," said Golland, who serves as an associate professor and coordinator of history and social sciences for the school in University Park.

Golland said African-American director Ryan Coogler offered a glimpse of what Afirca might look like if it had been spared from colonialism.

Indeed, the movie paints a portrait of Wakanda as a kingdom hidden from the rest of the world. It is also rich in a rare metal known as vibranium. This fictional resource is used to power the country's unmatched technology.

Golland enjoyed the movie though he was critical of its "reductive" view of African-American experience as it is portrayed in the backstory of the movie's villain, Erik Killmonger--played by MIchael B. Jordan. He said "Black Panther also was "too prone to make light of violence."

That said, he also pointed to the proiminent roles of black women in the film, adding that women of African descent have historically been hyper-sexualized in movies going back to the blaxploitation pictures of the 1970s. Golland also was impressed by the film's embodiment of "empowered black people." Read more at ChicagoTribune.Com.
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  David Hamilton Golland answers: "Why Vote?"
Opinion Piece for GSU News
In October 2017, fresh from a string of victories in Congressional elections, Donald Trump endorsed the winner of the Alabama Republican Senate primary election, former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. Despite Moore's recent history as an ideologue and the revelations of several women that he had engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct when they were minors, he seemed on track to win the general election. After all, no Democrat had won a statewide race in Alabama in decades.

But then a remarkable thing happened: people voted. In particular, large numbers of African-American women, many of whom had not voted in many years, turned out at the polls. Roy Moore was defeated by Democrat Doug Jones.

The right to vote is one of the most cherished and important of our rights as American citizens. The founders fought for it in the Revolutionary War, an act of bravery centered around the notion that, as Thomas Paine put it, there should be “no taxation without representation.” As part of a vast global British Empire, American colonists were not represented in the Parliament and had no sway over the decisions of the king.

The Republic they established was by no means perfect, nor is it today. However, by establishing the right to vote, first for landowners, eventually for all white men, later for all men, then for women, and most recently for citizens over the age of 18, We the People have set ourselves on a course to become a greater, more free, society. The decisions made by our government are subject to review by the People, and we regularly remove from office those leaders who have not lived up to the high standards we expect of them.

Our democracy remains fragile. History shows that it is far more difficult to keep a republic then it is to lose it.

What if we lose the right to vote? Even tyrannical governments rely on consent of the governed, but in undemocratic societies, a withdrawal of consent takes the form of violent protest and major upheavals, giving a disproportionate voice to the loudest and the strongest. I prefer to live in a more stable society where protest and advocacy are part of popular expression, but official consent comes through the ballot box.

Sometimes, in fact quite often, my favorite candidate loses. But voting is a social contract, and I am obligated to respect the results of a free election, just as I expect those who vote against my favorite candidate must respect the results when she wins. That doesn’t mean I have to respect the winning candidate as a person, nor his actions once in office. In fact, if he commits impeachable offenses (like using the job for financial gain or colluding with a foreign adversary) I very much support congressional candidates who would investigate his activities and, if necessary, remove him.

It's true that one vote usually doesn’t sway an election. But that's not always the case. In 2017, with the Virginia state legislature evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, a single vote actually determined who would become the tie-breaking legislator. That said, it’s increasingly frustrating, especially as you become more educated, to realize that major electoral decisions are most often made by the uninformed mass of the public. I’ve found it's best not to focus on what I can’t control but to focus instead on what I can. What I can control, in this republic, is whether or not I actually vote. And so every year, primary or general election, rain or shine, I do my duty and I vote. While much of the time this has been routine, it has resulted in the occasional wonderful moment. When I was growing up, I never thought that I would have the opportunity to vote for an African-American presidential nominee in a general election. Jesse Jackson’s presidential runs were exciting, but were the exceptions that proved the rule, and in 1988 an African-American major-party presidential nominee seemed as far away as ever. But in November 2008, as I stood in line, I turned around and saw a young man waiting to vote in his very first presidential election. “What a great year to cast your first presidential vote!” I exclaimed. From time to time, I think about that young man, how different the world has been for him, experiencing early adulthood during the Obama Administration, than it was for me. If anyone knows the power of the ballot, it’s him.

How can you decide for whom who to vote? For one thing, don’t vote for a candidate simply because you think that candidate can win. Vote for candidates who share your values and your beliefs. Of course, it’s difficult in today’s media to know what candidates actually stand for. So here’s what you should do: first, read a print newspaper, even if you read its online edition. Second, focus on articles that describe what the candidates stand for, rather than articles that report on the polls. Third, think very carefully about what the candidates are saying. Fourth, try to be an unselfish citizen and think about what is best for the country, even if it isn’t best for you personally. And finally, actually go and vote.

The author is Associate Professor of History and President of the Faculty Senate at Governors State University.

Illinois primary elections will be held on March 20, 2018, and on May 8 in Indiana. To register to vote in the state of Illinois, visit ova.elections.il.gov. In Indiana, visit indianavoters.com.

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  University Examines Rise of Hate Speech
By GSU News
Members of the Governors State community gathered on Thursday, November 2 in Engbretson Hall to create an open dialogue on "freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the impact of Confederate symbols, and the resurgence of hate" in America. Sponsored by the Campus Inclusion Team (CIT)—a committee of students, faculty, and staff from across the university devoted to upholding GSU's commitment to diversity—the Master of Public Administration at GSU, and Pi Alpha Alpha Global Honor Society, the event featured a panel of experts from higher ed with a keynote address from Gia Orr, a state and local advocate for human rights with a background and expertise in education.

Faculty members were joined by community members and peers from sister institutions in a panel discussion that ranged from understanding post-Civil War southern sentiment to practical actions people can take in their daily lives to combat the increasing presence and visibility of hate groups, such as Unite the Right—the far-right political group that incited the violence in Charlottesville, VA in August that led to the death of Heather Heyer, a counter-protestor who was killed when a vehicle plowed through the crowd. A moment of silence was held at Thursday's event for Heyer.

When asked if he thought the southern states had ever "gotten over" the loss of the Civil War, Dr. David Golland, professor of U.S. history in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), gave a simple no. The cut and dry response elicited a small ripple of laughter—needed levity in a room that came together to address the alarming rise of the acceptance and normalization of racism in contemporary America.... Read more at GSU News.
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  How Hope Works in the Black Community, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Obama
By BigThink.Com
Hope has played a significant role in the lives of African Americans throughout history, from early abolitionists to Martin Luther King and President Obama. Hope is an important tool in life. It motivates us to look past everyday challenges toward specific goals, however difficult they may be to achieve. In the African-American community, hope has always had a more particular connotation. As Andre C. Willis, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University, has said, hope among African-Americans is born of “centuries of despair and dehumanization” as well as the "tragic sense of life" given us by the Protestant tradition.


According to David Golland, an associate professor at Governor's State University, there has been little statistical improvement in African-American life in areas of child mortality, educational attainment, or teenage crime and drug use.

On the other hand, Golland thinks that a value of the Obama Presidency may lie in its symbolic nature:

"Getting away from the word metrics, there's just something about a generation of children growing up and seeing someone who looks like them in the White House that cannot be underestimated,” said Golland....Read more at BigThink.Com.
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  Doctoral Hooding Celebrates Future Leaders
By GSU News
As Dr. David Golland, professor of History in the College of Arts and Sciences, led the processional at the 2017 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on Thursday, May 18 at Governors State University, 59 GSU students filled the stage of the university’s Center for Performing Arts. This year’s candidates, arranged by college and degree, took their seats and kept contemplative countenances—the solemnity of the ceremony reflected in their faces—but the joy of the night was palpable in the room. The “ritual” of hooding, as GSU President Elaine P. Maimon termed it in her address, although part and parcel.... Read more at GSU News.
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  David Hamilton Golland
Interview by GSU News
David Hamilton Golland fell in love with history when he was 11 years old and read Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s sprawling account of political unrest in 19th century France. The son of a professor, he spent his childhood with his nose in books, but his desire to teach didn’t arise until much later.

“I wanted to be a rock ’n’ roll star,” he said. “I sing, and I went to the High School of Performing Arts in New York City.” Yes, that one—the setting for the 1980 film Fame. “After that, I tried my hand at Broadway. I was an actor and singer, but I didn’t make a living at it. I made my money busing tables. I did get a callback for Les Miserables, the original musical, around 1995, and then I went to college.” Golland continued his relationship with the book Les Miserables. “In my early 20s,” he recalled, “rereading it was an annual ritual, usually for a week in April.”

It was during his time as an undergraduate that Golland found his passion for teaching.

“I was told by all of my professors—and I try to tell this to my students as well—you should major in your favorite subject. You should never major in something that sounds like a job. The job will come. And so history had been my favorite academic subject, and so I majored in history.”

Golland joined the faculty at Governors State University in 2011. He was brought on board to help build the university’s history program. He is Associate Professor and Coordinator of History and Social Sciences and vice president of the Faculty Senate. His book, Constructing Affirmative Action: The Struggle for Equal Opportunity, was published in 2011 by the University Press of Kentucky, and he has another volume in the works.

GSU Newsroom: How did you end up a civil rights historian?

Golland: Well, I like to say I was raised in the shadow of the Holocaust. I grew up in the reform Jewish tradition in New York City where we would partner with churches in Harlem. Our youth group would do social events with them and other community building activities.

It was also a Labor household. My grandfather used to get beat up—I want to say by Pinkertons but I’m sure he never actually encountered Pinkertons—but he used to get beat up by thugs that the bosses would send after people like him. At some point he was a leader in the retail shoe employees union, and I still keep his brass retirement card in my wallet. He really believed in the union project at a time when it was illegal in some states, before the Wagner Act requiring that workers be allowed to organize. I grew up middle class, but there was this sense of, “you have to look at things from the perspective of the people who are not in charge, who do not have the advantages.”

Communism was also in the household. Both of my godparents were very active in the Communist Party before and after the war. We would visit them on weekends. We would drive up the river to see them. My godfather wanted to be a school teacher, and when President Truman made everyone who wanted to be employed by the government sign a loyalty oath that said that they were not now and had never been a member of the Communist Party, my godfather wouldn’t sign it. He actually became incredibly wealthy then, because he went into business for himself. So it’s one of these weird things about history where this staunch Communist continues to be very important in the New York Communist world, because he’s giving so much money to the Communist Party, but he’s actually making his money as a capitalist.

I was taught both as an undergraduate and in grad school that a good historian does her or his best by getting away from one’s own experiences. And so I did not become a historian of the Jewish experience. I became a historian of the African American experience.

Newsroom: What are you currently working on?

Golland: I’m working on a political biography of “the father of affirmative action.” His name was Arthur Fletcher. By all accounts he was quite a character in life, and he was a figure in my first book. He was born out of wedlock on the wrong side of the tracks with all of the advantages missing in his childhood, and he rose to advise four presidents of the United States. Along the way, he was the first African American player for the Baltimore Colts football team, and he served as director of the United Negro College Fund.

He was in charge of the United Negro College Fund when it adopted the motto, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and he made a critical change to that phrase—so if he hadn’t been there, it would have been very different. Others in the organization wanted to phrase it, “a mind is a hell of a thing to waste.” Many of the members of the UNCF were associated with churches, and Fletcher knew the idea of having the word hell was a non-starter. He still got in trouble for terrible, but no one could have predicted how successful that was going to be. He was a Republican, which I find interesting; he was to the left of the entire party when it came to civil rights. And so the story has morphed from a civil rights biography to a political biography of a man who got left behind by his team, so to speak.

Newsroom: So much of history is political, and we’re at a point right now when politics isn’t necessarily anyone’s favorite topic. How do you broach that in your classroom?

Golland: I try to help my students understand the role of government and the individual in the modern world. There are a lot of negative things said about politicians. And there are a lot of negative things said about bureaucrats. But the root of politician is polis, and these are people who can run a polity; the root of bureaucrat is bureau—these are people who know what their office is responsible for. Yes, it’s frustrating to have politicians who seem to be out for their own benefit all the time, bureaucrats who stare at you from behind a glass window and force you to follow rules that seem arcane and inane. Of course those things are frustrating. A lot of the modern world is frustrating, but if we didn’t have those things we’d be living like they live in the zombie apocalypse of The Walking Dead where everybody is trying to survive the next five minutes. We need our government run by people who know how to run a government. Of course they’re ambitious, but everyone’s ambitious. It’s a matter of degree, and being ambitious for things that you can actually achieve.

My father once told me—this was right after Reagan was elected—that anyone who actually wants to be the president probably shouldn’t be the president, because it’s a rather crazy proposition. Look at how quickly their hair turns gray, for one thing—why would you want to do that to your body? They have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
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  Obama as symbol of hope, possibility for blacks, key to racial legacy, scholars say
By Zak Koeske, Daily Southtown
As President Barack Obama marks his final Martin Luther King Jr. Day in office on Monday, eight years after being elected the nation's first black president, local scholars argue that his presidency represented extraordinary progress for African Americans, even if it wasn't always quantifiable.

"If we look at the hard metrics — educational attainment, child mortality, incidence of teenage crime, incidence of drug use… I don't know that there have been any great advances in the last eight years," said David Golland, an associate professor at Governor's State University, whose research interests include civil rights and public policy. "Getting away from the word metrics, there's just something about a generation of children growing up and seeing someone who looks like them in the White House that cannot be underestimated."


"In trying to straddle that fence, so to speak, I believe there were some issues that he hesitated on or did not come out as forcefully on for fear of undue criticism," added [Prof. Vincent] Jones, citing criminal justice reform and economic inequality.

Golland agreed, saying he wished Obama had been more vocal on the merits of affirmative action and education reform, and acknowledged that a number of prominent black scholars have been disappointed that he was not more aggressive on race issues, but said he doesn't blame Obama for his reticence around race.

"He had… an incredible amount of weight on him, an incredible amount of responsibility as the first black president," Golland said. "One of the most important things he did, he ensured that he would not be the last [black president]. He was incredibly good at the job."

Obama's avoidance of any significant scandal over the course of his presidency and his ability to comport himself with dignity and decency in the face of harsh opposition and stinging personal attacks should pave the way for future black presidents in the years to come, local scholars believe.

"I think whoever the next black president is, he or she will indeed have more freedom to discuss race candidly during the presidency, and to act in a way that is more conducive to supporting civil rights and true racial equality in this country because of the way President Obama conducted himself," Golland said.

Jones took it a step further, envisioning a future where citizens don't expect a black president to be anything but pro-American.

"I hope the next black president can just be the president of all people and that everyone doesn't see them as the "black president," but as the president of the United States who is working to make life better for everyone," he said. "I think that is part of the legacy for Barack Obama."

While both Jones and Golland wish Obama had tackled issues of race a bit more aggressively during his time in office, they consider him to have been an extraordinarily effective president....
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  75 years later, residents share memories of Christmas 1941
By Susan Demar Lafferty, Daily Southtown
Walking home from a Shirley Temple movie to her family's farm in Streator on Dec. 7, 1941, Millie Fricke and her two older sisters heard a man shouting that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

As news spread, and the nation readied for war, locals sitting around the dinner table wondered when farm boys would head off to battle and about women's roles in the effort, Fricke, now of Elgin, said.

The news shaped that Christmas season, Fricke, whose maiden name was Millie Hultman, recalled. As the bombing led to war with the Japanese, Fricke said she and her friends wondered how it would impact Christmas.


Americans would have embraced the holiday, because it was something that was "traditional and stable in a topsy turvy world," said David Golland associate professor and coordinator of history and social sciences at Governors State University.

"People looked to things like Christmas or Hanukkah and marriage as things that they could hold onto," he said, noting that there was "an astronomical uptick in the marriage rate" in the weeks following the attack.

Youngsters concerned about their future and men not knowing if they would be drafted, were looking for stability, Golland said....
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  If history teachers could time travel...
By Donna Vickroy, Southtown Star
Is there a baby boomer alive who hasn't fantasized about stepping into Mr. Peabody's WABAC machine and traveling through history?

Those of you of a certain age know that the cartoon "Peabody's Improbable History" was a recurring feature on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," an animated series during the 1960s.

In each episode, Mr. Peabody, a bespectacled beagle considered to be an authority on just about everything, prompted his pet boy Sherman, an orphan adopted by Mr. Peabody, to set the machine to a specific place and date. Then the pair would step inside and witness and, ahem, save history.


No WABAC machine is needed for David Golland, assistant professor and coordinator of history and social sciences at Governors State University in University Park. He travels back in time every day simply by reading, he said.

"One of the historical moments I have most enjoyed visiting is the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where I meet labor and civil rights leaders like Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, Whitney Young and Walter Reuther," he said. "My scholarship and that of other historians has demonstrated that this was a heady time at the confluence between two critical movements of the American 20th century--the movements for workers rights and the movement for civil rights." ...
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  Review of Constructing Affirmative Action
by Jennifer Delton, Labor History
This book should be required reading for anyone seeking to form an opinion on affirmative action. Its detailed analysis of how and why affirmative action came to be a solution to discrimination reveals just how shallow the current debates about affirmative action actually are. The book's main contribution lies in the rich bureaucratic details it provides of how the Philadelphia Plan was developed and instituted from roughly 1961 to 1975. Designed to integrate the building trade unions, the Philadelphia Plan became the model for all workplace affirmative action programs. Using records from the AFL-CIO, the Johnson and Nixon administrations, and a variety of local union and civil rights organizations, David Golland pieces together a story that has for too long been vague and skimmed over. He explains the complicated relationship between the building trades (where unions controlled hiring), subcontracting, and federally funded projects. He examines how mid-level bureaucrats in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC) worked with local organizations in St. Louis, San Francisco, and Cleveland to develop forerunners to the Philadelphia Plan. He provides new details on the Nixon administration's fight against the Comptroller General's attempt to prohibit the ‘goals and timetables’ requirement of the Philadelphia Plan. He reminds us of the differences between Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits federal funding of projects involving racial discrimination and was enforced by the OFCC, and Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination and was enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While Title VII prohibited quotas, says Golland, Title VI did not, and the various plans designed to integrate the building trades were developed under the OFCC.

In addition, Golland puts forth three arguments: (1) that despite his initial support for the Philadelphia Plan, Richard Nixon was not a civil rights president; (2) that federal bureaucrats were the most effective agents of equal employment opportunity from 1965 to 1972; and (3) that the goal of affirmative action was and is equal employment opportunity. Let us start with the third, and easiest, argument. This is an easy argument because there is so much evidence to support it. One only has to read the various sources to see that the goal of what became known as affirmative action was always equal opportunity for those who had been denied it for so long. It is an argument worth restating, since, as Golland notes, current thinking on affirmative action has become sidetracked by reverse discrimination charges and diversity concerns, but it is hardly a new argument for those who have studied this topic.

Golland's second argument is more useful. After showing how bureaucratic inertia prevented the President's Committee on Government Contracts (PCGC) from effectively fighting discrimination in the 1950s, Golland turns to the 1960s and the bureaucrats in the OFCC, who, unlike their predecessors, actively developed and implemented different local plans for integration. Without these bureaucrats, it is doubtful that any of the Johnson-era civil rights reforms would have been implemented on the ground in ways that mattered. Golland gives names and credit to these mid-level bureaucrats who were, despite their position in the Establishment, part of the solution. One hopes that this attention to the men and women in the middle, the government bureaucrats – and, I would add, personnel managers – is a sign that historians are moving away from the top-down vs. bottom-up framework, which does little to explain how reforms were actually translated into racial progress.

What appears to be Golland's main argument is his weakest. Golland thinks historians have given Nixon too much credit for the Philadelphia Plan, a plan that wasn’t even his. In Golland's eyes, Nixon was an opportunist with little real interest in civil rights, who pushed the Philadelphia Plan for political purposes and abandoned it five months later in order to appease southern allies and hard-hat voters. Despite this attempt to belittle Nixon's efforts, however, what Golland actually shows is that the Nixon administration fought harder and more effectively for affirmative action than the Johnson administration had. This was because Johnson's political obligations to labor prevented him from fully supporting earlier versions of the Philadelphia Plan. Nixon was under no such constraints. Plus, the plan exacerbated the conflict between labor and blacks, thus crippling the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Both Johnson and Nixon acted politically because both were politicians. But when Nixon acted politically it actually helped black people.

Golland seems to think that because Nixon acted out of political purposes (rather than egalitarian ones), this somehow negates his efforts, as if Kennedy and Johnson's efforts for civil rights had not been every bit as political, as if intent mattered more than outcome. Civil rights activists had always based their strategies on convincing white politicians that equal opportunity would be politically beneficial to those who embraced it. Why should we condemn politicians who responded to those strategies? The conflict between the Democratic Party's two key constituents was low-hanging fruit; Nixon would have been a fool not to exploit it. That he did so by validating a progressive, effective, necessary program for integration is worthy of some kind of recognition. Golland admits, moreover, that despite Nixon's subsequent apathy about the plan, it nonetheless survived, and under the leadership of Nixon appointees Arthur Fletcher, John Wilks and James Hodgson, ‘succeeded in integrating unions and job sites alike’ (169).
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  Review of Constructing Affirmative Action
by Philip F. Rubio, American Historical Review
The last two decades have seen a rise in book-length historical studies of affirmative action. David Hamilton Golland’s work is a welcome addition to the literature and debates on this contentious issue. Focusing on Philadelphia, the title puns the particular focus he has taken on this key aspect of affirmative action, namely the struggle for equal employment opportunity for African Americans who for years were excluded from the construction industry and its trade unions.

Golland reminds us that “affirmative action” has been not just a public policy filled with ironies, interest convergences, and unintended consequences but also a struggle that at its heart challenges the privileges of white supremacy. The book’s dust jacket features a 1963 photograph of black men and women picketing a construction site in Philadelphia, led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other civil rights groups. One picket sign reads: “Phila.’s Labor Bigots Must Go Also.” Indeed, the NAACP and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) locked horns over segregated trade unions both North and South in the 1960s. George Shultz, Secretary of Labor and Commerce under President Richard Nixon, once wryly commented that before the Philadelphia Plan the quota for blacks in the construction industry was zero.

Golland has successfully mined primary sources from government, labor, and civil rights organizations to debunk notions of Nixon as an affirmative action pioneer or civil rights president. He seeks instead to help restore to the historical narrative the important role played by popular forces campaigning for civil rights as sparks to this public policy, which he further notes was kept alive by certain government bureaucrats through the Johnson and Nixon administrations. Chapters one and two chart the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations’ reluctant response to civil rights movement pressure. Chapter three highlights federal officials’ testing employment integration plans between the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1967 introduction of the Philadelphia and Cleveland Plans. Chapters four and five use Philadelphia as a point of departure to view local and national battles over affirmative action in construction from 1967 to 1973. “This book,” writes Golland, “treats the two iterations of the Philadelphia Plan as the collective watershed moment in the origin of affirmative action” (p. 3). Tracing the history of that plan, Golland effectively contrasts it with progress or obstruction in other cities. Despite opponents’ claims that this was a quota system, Golland points out that it was not, noting that civil rights leaders themselves were “leery of quotas” (p. 128). The plan did, however, require the construction industry and unions to set goals and timetables for training and hiring African Americans. Golland highlights the work of affirmative action advocates like NAACP Labor Secretary Herbert Hill and Assistant Secretary of Labor Arthur Fletcher, contrasted with Nixon’s cynical usage of affirmative action to try to split the Democratic Party’s labor and civil rights constituencies. That overt attempt was perhaps best exemplified with his appointment of trade union leader and affirmative action opponent Peter Brennan as secretary of labor.

Golland makes no apology for his affirmative action advocacy. This is not problematic in itself. But he encounters analytical gridlock by narrowly framing affirmative action as simply “positive steps” (p. 173) for “equal opportunity,” with “preferences and quotas” being departures from what was “originally intended” (p. 5). Who intended this? What if “positive steps” alone turned out to be an insufficient remedy to combat discrimination? How do we undo historical white preferences in construction or anywhere else without introducing correctives that include some kind of black “hiring preferences,” as Nancy MacLean put it in her discussion of the Philadelphia Plan (p. 173)? Golland also misreads “diversity” as a diversion from affirmative action public policy (p. 172), whereas Kimberle Crenshaw and others have noted that “diversity” became an affirmative action strategy after the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke decision banned minority admissions preferences and quotas in higher education.

The book is clearly argued and accessibly written—no easy task when trying to describe details of the construction trades, popular movements, labor organizations, and civil rights law. It is less successful in its broader view of the affirmative action struggle. In addition, some antiquated conceptualizations periodically pop up (e.g., “white backlash,” pp. 119, 150). There is also the occasional odd generalization such as: “At the start of 1961, civil rights leaders could look back at two decades of progress in voting rights and public accommodation” (p. 33), suggesting a need for better editing.

Nonetheless, this is both a good scholarly and general read, not to mention teaching tool. Few historians have focused so much research on the construction industry and trade unions as one of the key sites of the modern affirmative action battle. With the U.S. Supreme Court possibly poised to overturn affirmative action, we need to see what we may lose with its dismantling.
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  Review of Constructing Affirmative Action
by Terry H. Anderson, Journal of American History
In a lucid introduction to Constructing Affirmative Action, David Hamilton Golland explains the reason for his book. It addresses a significant issue: How can and did the federal government change employment practices, especially concerning unionized construction trades, from the late 1950s to the early 1970s? To answer the question that the author examines the history of inequality in those trades, eventually pointing out that most unions were segregated and that in 1961 there were fewer than three hundred licensed black journeymen electricians and plumbers in the entire nation. Traditionally, those jobs went to sons, relatives, and friends of white members — even though the unions had made pledges for years to hire without regard to race, color, or creed. Golland cites bureaucratic inertia as the reason for unions ’ failure to integrate before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which jump-started activity and pressure for equal employment opportunity. The book then examines how officials in the Johnson administration worked in several cities in the second half of the 1960s to develop what became known as the Philadelphia Plan during the Nixon administration.

Golland makes three arguments in his book. Challenging historians such as Joan Hoff and Kevin Yuill he contends that Richard M. Nixon “was not the ‘father of affirmative action’ or even a ‘civil rights president’ by the standard set by his predecessor in the White House” (p. 4). He also argues that the “federal bureaucracy, which initially worked against the implementation of equal employment opportunity programs . . . came to be the most effective player for their implementation during the 1960s and 1970s” ( ibid .). Finally, the author defines “affirmative action as equal opportunity” (p. 5). In other words, “Affirmative action means carefully identifying areas of inequality, taking a series of positive steps to alleviate that inequality, and following through in the long term” to get results (pp. 5 – 6).

Along the way Golland reveals through interesting episodes how federal officials used tax-supported contracts for public works to get unions to open their membership. Readers are introduced to obscure historical actors such as Woody Zenfell and the project to build the St. Louis Arch, Charles Doneghy and public works during the Cleveland race riot of 1966, and Robert C. Magnusson and his attempts to employ integrated unions to build the Bay Area Rapid Transit System in San Francisco. All met incredible resistance and basically failed to bring about results, but all of their plans were the origins of the Philadelphia Plan.

The author spends approximately two chapters on the origins, development, and results of the Philadelphia Plan, and this is a major contribution to the scholarship of affirmative action. He also presents a new interpretation. Historians have used the Nixon administration’s implementation of the plan to demonstrate “a positive civil rights agenda,” but Golland demonstrates that the plan was “developed and implemented by Johnson-era officials” and “that the changes between the original plan and the Nixon-era plan were minimal” (p. 104).

In sum, Constructing Affirmative Action offers a thoughtful new interpretation, clearly presented and based on judicious research in primary sources. It will become the standard book on the struggle for equal employment opportunity in the construction trades.
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  Review of Constructing Affirmative Action
by A.A. Sisneros, Choice Reviews
Constructing Affirmative Action chronicles the origins of affirmative action and the integration of the building construction trades from 1956 to 1973. Golland (history, CUNY) provides an in-depth historical accounting of "bureaucratic inertia," "urban crisis," development of the Philadelphia Plan, and the roles of mainstream civil rights organizations, labor, contractors, and industry. The book also serves as a classic case study in government program implementation and mid-level representative democracy. The author documents presidential politics beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and refutes Richard Nixon's sincerity. The volume includes a selected list of references and authoritative notes. See also K. Yull's Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action (CH, Feb'07, 44-3555), J. Kellough's Understanding Affirmative Action (CH, Dec'06, 44-2387), and T. Anderson's The Pursuit of Fairness (CH, Feb'05, 42-3594).
Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals.
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  Torture, Then and Now
by David Hamilton Golland
Letter to the Editor in response to Donald P. Gregg, "After Abu Ghraib; Fight Fire With Compassion"
The New York Times
In Army basic training in 1990, I was told to be prepared for an enemy as well trained as I was. I asked how, if that were the case, we could expect to win. I was told to do 20 pushups. Donald P. Gregg resolved to effect positive change from within the C.I.A. Every soldier assigned guard duty in Iraq should heed his call and do what is right, even if it means disobeying orders that are clearly immoral and un-American.
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  Last updated 11 September 2019 (DHG)