John Russo & Sherry Linkon

John Russo is the former co-director of the Center for Working-Class Studies and coordinator of the Labor Studies Program at Youngstown State University. Currently, he is a visiting scholar at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and Working Poor at Georgetown University. He is also managing editor of the blog Working-Class Perspectives.

Sherry Linkon is a professor of English at Georgetown University and a faculty affiliate of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. Her book, The Half-Life of Deindustrialization, will be published by the University of Michigan Press in 2018. She is the editor of Working-Class Perspectives.

Recent Articles

Everybody Knows About Alabama

Doug Jones’s victory and a new play drawing on Nina Simone’s songs illustrate the opportunities and challenges we face in 2018.

AP Photo
AP Photo Nina Simone in London in 1968 You don't have to live next to me Just give me my equality Everybody knows about Mississippi Everybody knows about Alabama Everybody knows about Mississippi goddam, that's it —“Mississippi Goddam,” Nina Simone W e saw Nina Simone: Four Women , a play with music, on the same day Simone was named as an inductee to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That alone gave the play extra meaning. But the experience was made even richer by an unusual convergence of culture and politics: The day before, Doug Jones won a special election in Alabama to become that state’s first Democratic senator in several decades. While Jones’s prosecution of two of the KKK members responsible for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham helped him win support in this year’s election, the bombing also had a profound effect on Simone. Along with the murder of Medgar Evers, it inspired her to begin writing protest songs, including what she called her first...

Youngstown, Economic Nationalism, and the Half-Life of Deindustrialization

The closure of an Ohio steel mill sent thousands into low-wage jobs and kicked off a politics of resentment that powers left- and right-wing populist movements today.

AP Photo/Harvey Georges
AP Photo/Harvey Georges Steelworkers, along with then-Senator John Glenn demand assistance in Washington following the closure of Youngstown Steel and Tube in 1977. I n his 60 Minutes interview , Steve Bannon touted his form of economic nationalism and suggested that even Democrats like Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Tim Ryan, both of Ohio, understood his economic vision, even if they didn’t agree with him. It was fitting that he name-checked Brown and Ryan, as both come from the northeast area of the state, where the history of deindustrialization began 40 years ago. On September 19, 1977—known locally as “Black Monday”—Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced that it was shutting down, kicking off a wave of steel mill closings that would displace more than 40,000 area workers in basic steel and steel-related industries. In the 1970s, deindustrialization was often explained away as part of the “natural economic order.” Borrowing the term from Joseph Schumpeter , economist and...