Speakeasies, rum runners, and backwoods fundamentalists railing about the ills of strong drink are just one small part of the global story of prohibition. The full story of prohibition—one you’ve probably never been told—is perhaps one of the most broad-based and successful transnational social movements of the modern era. The call for temperance motivated and aligned activists within progressive, social justice, labor rights, women’s rights, and indigenous rights movements advocating for communal self-protection against the corrupt and predatory “liquor machine” that had become rich off the misery and addictions of the poor around the world.
From the slums of South Asia, to the beerhalls of Central Europe, to the Native American reservations of the United States, discover 20 key figures from history that you didn’t know were prohibitionists.
Booker T. Washington
Full name: Booker Taliaferro Washington
Lived: 5 April 1856-14 November 1915
Nationality: United States
Occupation: educator, social activist
From the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Booker T. Washington was a dominant voice of African American rights in the post-Reconstruction south. Amidst the wave of prohibition legislation across the south in 1907, Washington undertook numerous investigations into the racial dynamics associated with southern temperance. Washington affirmed the insights of W.E.B. DuBois and other investigators, who explained that prohibitionism was not some white racial imposition, but rather a mechanism of liberation of both white communities and black from the predatory liquor traffic. “No one who is at all acquainted with the conditions in the South can doubt the genuineness of the feeling that are behind prohibition in the South,” Washington wrote, “which is in no way a political maneuver, but an inspired movement of the masses of the people [as] an intellectual awakening and a moral revolution.”
There are currently no comments.