A Life of Social Justice: Jack O’Dell’s Writings

Nikhil Pal Singh and Jack O'Dell

Jack O’Dell has spent nearly his entire life working and writing for social justice. In Climbin’ Jacob’s Ladder: The Black Freedom Movement Writings of Jack O’Dell, editor Nikhil Pal Singh presents a selection of O’Dell’s influential writings from the past 50 years, including pieces from his years as editor of the periodical Freedomways.

Introducing the work, Singh describes how, while traveling the world in the Merchant Marines during World War II, O’Dell developed the lifelong commitment to civil rights that would take him to the forefront of the black freedom movement and secure his legacy as an influential writer, intellectual, and voice for international solidarity, anti-racism, and justice. O’Dell is still writing today, and his work reveals that the civil rights movement had origins far before the 1960s and a scope far beyond US shores.

In this UC Press podcast, Singh talks to Chris Gondek about Jack O’Dell’s instrumental and often unsung role in the black freedom movement and in the worldwide struggle for social justice, the revolutionary connections he drew between racism, fascism, and colonialism, and O’Dell’s insights into 21st-century America.

Listen to the podcast: