Eli Frank, “Reds Among Reaganites: The Afterlives of American Communism and an Incipient U.S. Third World Left in Milwaukee, 1968-1991”
The thesis retells how young, working-class people of color led a resurgence of the Communist Party (CP) in Milwaukee and mounted a militant challenge to deindustrialization, post-Civil Rights-era racism, and the crisis of the conservative turn during the ‘Long 1970s.’ Identifying Milwaukee as an epicenter of both crisis and possibility, a multiracial group of Communists drew on the ‘afterlives of American Communism’ as they faced down austerity, racial fascism, and economic depression. Tracing the (dis)continuities of the Black and Chicano Radical Traditions with American Communism, I extend Cynthia Young’s work to theorize the CP in Milwaukee as an incipient U.S. Third World Left formation, which produced an enduring afterlife of its own.
Eli Frank is a fourth-year History student at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He has worked in archives and special collections at both public and academic libraries, including at the Milwaukee Public Library. Since transferring to UWM in the Fall of 2019, Eli has worked as a Student Undergraduate Research Fellow with the Office of Undergraduate Research, where his research output includes a digital history project titled “Mapping Radical Milwaukee” and an ongoing project which seeks to assemble a digital, real-time, community-based archive of the Black Lives Matter movement in Wisconsin. Eli will pursue the coordinated Master of History/Master of Library and Information Science program at UWM beginning in the Fall of 2021.