Off the Shelf Podcast

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About the Podcast

"Off the Shelf: Revolutionary Readings in Times of Crisis" is a podcast series featuring in-depth conversations with Black scholars on the University of Illinois campus and beyond. Each episode explores books and scholars they recommend we take “off the shelf” to help us understand these revolutionary times and creative agendas for the here and now.


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Season 4, Episode 2: David Walton on the Past, Present, and Future of Black Studies

In this episode, we hear from guest David Walton, history professor and founding director of the Global Black Studies program at Western Carolina University. Walton takes the listener back to his childhood, when he developed an interest in reading foundational works by public intellectuals like Malcolm X, Bobby Seale, and Huey Newton. After stints with teaching and military service, Walton returned to those readings and dug deeper into histories both global and local— even discovering connections among his own family—as he completed dual PhD degrees. Listen to S4, Episode 2.

Season 4, Episode 1: A Conversation with Historian of the Working People Naomi R Williams

In this episode, host Augustus Wood talks to Labor Studies professor—and self-described “historian of the working people”—Naomi R Williams (Rutgers University), whose research in southeast Wisconsin labor history sheds new light on the pivotal role of Black workers in forging and leveraging union solidarity in the 1970s and 80s. Listen to S4, Episode 1.

Season 3, Episode 2: Bill Fletcher Jr. on Strategies for Successful Organizing

In this episode, host Augustus Wood talks to legendary writer, scholar, and trade unionist Bill Fletcher Jr. They cover Fletcher’s storied life from his early years as a teen activist and then college, labor organizing, and leadership in the Black Radical Congress, among other experiences. Today, Fletcher is a frequent columnist and contributor to a number of media outlets, speaking on social justice, labor, and electoral and international politics. Listen to S3, Episode 2.

Season 3, Episode 1: Joe William Trotter Jr. on the Story of Black Labor in Building Industrial America

Welcome to a new season of Off the Shelf! In this season opener, host Augustus Wood and guest Joe William Trotter Jr. (history and social justice, Carnegie Mellon University) engage in a deep discussion of Black working class history, grounded in Trotter's pathbreaking research and published works, notably Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915-45 and Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America. Listen to S3, Episode 1.

Podcast Archives

Season 1 Episodes

Season 2 Episodes



Augustus Wood is a scholar of political economy and gentrification, labor, and social movements in late 20th and early 21st Century African American urban history. A past HRI campus fellow (2017–18), he is currently an assistant professor in the Labor Education program, School of Labor and Employment Relations, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Wood has authored articles that appear in the Labor Studies Journal and co-authored book chapters with Dr. Sundiata Cha-Jua. He is the editor of the upcoming special edition of Labor Studies Journal on Black Workers and COVID. He is a contributor on Routledge’s forthcoming Encyclopedia of Antiracism. He is also a member of the editorial board of the Humanities and Social Sciences Journal. He hosts the "Radio Free Labor" program on 90.1 FM WEFT Champaign Radio. Learn more about Augustus Wood.

Augustus Wood