A Black Revolutionary’s Life in Labor; Black Workers Power in Detroit by Michael Hamlin is the first book published by Against the Tide Books. Beginning as an idea in the spring of 2011, this book has taken many twists and turns and been a long time in coming. Mike and I were invited to Oaxaca, Mexico in May of that year by political activist friends, George Colman and Michele Gibbs. George is an author and Michele, his partner is an artist and poet. We were invited to visit so that George could begin initial interviews for a book on Mike’s life and work.
Excited about the prospect, we bought plane tickets, got our shots and booked a hotel. However, the trip was not to be. Mike began to have abdominal pains and was diagnosed with colon cancer. Surgery could not wait. That summer his health went from bad to worse. A portion of his colon was removed; he slipped into heart failure and then kidney failure. By August, when Michele arrived in Detroit with tape recorder in hand, his condition was dire. We started dialysis four times a day and Michele stayed for six weeks, recording and transcribing the interviews that George was seeking. During some of his better moments, Mike was able to describe his development as a revolutionary and his subsequent work as a social worker supporting workers in the plants after the revolutionary period had come to an end. But the words lacked precision and depth.
Some months later, we received a preliminary copy of Michele’s work with a request that Mike review and edit the text but he did not have the strength to do this. So the work sat for the better part of a year untouched except by Michele’s urgings to complete the task. Finally, Mike’s health began to improve and the work, although delayed began to come to life again. In the meantime, Michele took up her artistic work, committing to two major sculpting commissions and I took up the task of completing the process.
Today, we have a product on its way to print. We are excited about Mike’s book and my upcoming book. Publishing has been a challenging and rewarding experience. I will keep you updated on the publication progress and share excerpts of this important work in this blogspace. Watch for it!
Joann Castle, Against the Tide Books