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Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with James H. Flower
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: James Flower was born in 1906 on a farm near Sebeka, Minnesota, where he grew up. He soon decided that farming would not suit him for a lifetime, and began to travel. In 1933, he and his first wife and child came to Minneapolis looking for work. What greeted him were unemployment demonstrations, led by members of the Communist Party. It did not take Mr. Flower long to join. He became very active in the Unemployed Councils in Minneapolis; served briefly as national secretary of the United Farmers League; and finally became the business agent for the International Hod Carriers, Building, and Common Laborers' Union Local #563. He was also the secretary-treasurer of the Building Trades Council. During the Second World War Mr. Flower worked in the shipyards in Savage, and after it was over he became a cab driver. He quit the Communist Party in the early 1940s because he disagreed with the directions taken by General Secretary Earl Browder, but rejoined it in the 1960s. In 1974 he was the Party candidate for lieutenant governor of Minnesota. Mr. Flower was a long-time resident of northeast Minneapolis, and was active in city council races and community issues there. In 1978 he retired to Eveleth, Minnesota, and died in Virginia, Minnesota on August 23, 1986. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Strike by Works Progress Administration workers, 1939. Medical care for working-class families, early 1930s. Unemployed Councils in Minneapolis, early 1930s. United Farmers League in Wisconsin, early 1930s, and conditions for farmers in the Midwest. Disagreements with the Communist Party line. Attempts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to gain Mr. Flower's cooperation, 1960s. Assessments of Floyd B. Olson and Elmer Benson. Opinions about the labor movement in 1977. Opinions of Hubert Humphrey, 1940s, and Halter Mondale and Jimmy Carter, 1970s. Descriptions of penny auctions, 1930s. Unemployment demonstrations in Minneapolis, 1930s. Anecdotes about driving taxicabs. Opinions about Medicare and health insurance, 1970s. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: This interview wanders somewhat, and the researcher is advised to read the entire transcript. There was a fair amount of background noise on the tapes. The transcript is only partially edited, and the spellings of many names is only approximate.
2 hours sound cassette
31 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
01:55:33 running time
Interviewee: Flower, James H.
Interviewer: O'Connell, Tom
Interviewer: Trimble, Steve
Made in: Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 30 (Library Call Number)
AV1990.228.55 (Accession Number)
MHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'