American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Mae Ngai: Historical Perspectives on Labor and Immigration Policy

Published September 9, 2011

Mae Ngai, Columbia University
Remembering the Triangle Fire – Labor and Immigration Policy
The Graduate Center, CUNY
March 24, 2011

Historian Mae Ngai spoke on a panel as part of the 100th anniversary remembrance of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. She provides a historical perspective on the often contentious relationship between organized labor and immigrant activism. This fifteen-minute talk spans U.S. history from the racialized arguments of Samuel Gompers, to the more inclusive rhetoric of the 1960s’ “children of the triangle generation,” and through to the present. Professor Ngai argues that organized labor poses the wrong question when it asks: Are immigrants good or bad for us?

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