York College Professor Reviews For History News Network

Dr. Robert Parmet, a professor in the York College Department of History and Philosophy, recently reviewed Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights, and the New York City Teachers Union, the most recent book by CUNY colleague, Dr. Clarence Taylor

The review, which is one of many Dr. Parmet has done for the History News Network (HNN), adds to his own impressive scholarship as professor, historian and author of such works as 2005’s well-received, The Master of Seventh Avenue: David Dubinsky and the American Labor Movement as well as Labor and Immigration in Industrial America.

“In his study, Clarence Taylor explores the nature and extent of the Communist influence,” writes Dr. Parmet. “Relying on thorough research and presenting much detail, he finds that the Teachers Union indeed adopted policies of the Communist Party, but without abandoning the interests of the teachers they led. Though the TU was handicapped by its blind support for the Soviets and the American Communists, it advanced the cause of social unionism, and looked beyond teachers’ working conditions to eradicate such evils as racism and poverty and create a more just society.”

Dr. Parmet, whose areas of expertise include US History, US Ethnic and Immigration History and US Labor History adds, “Though Taylor is indignant when he describes the affront to civil liberties, he carefully weighs the issues he discusses. For example, there is the question of anti-Semitism. Considering the fact that most of the removed teachers on the 1956 list were Jewish, a hasty conclusion might attribute that situation to Anti-Semitism. While not denying that some of the figures leading the purge held such sentiments, Taylor nevertheless examines the question thoroughly, finally deciding that it was a weapon used by both sides.”

Dr. Robert Parmet is a founding professor at York College, CUNY, who earned his PhD and MA degrees at Columbia University and an undergraduate degree at The City College of New York

Dr. Clarence Taylor is a professor of History and of Black and Hispanic Studies at Baruch College and professor of History at the CUNY Graduate Center.

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