labour history, Black history, Windsor, UAW, 1970s, Canadian History
The shooting of UAW Local 444 President Charles “Charlie” Brooks in January 1977 by former Chrysler worker Clarence Talbot, allegedly over a grievance, brought the city of Windsor, Ontario to a standstill. Recently fired from his position as a relief worker at the Chrysler plant, Talbot was in a very vulnerable position where his ability to survive hinged on a successful grievance. Brooks was a beloved labour leader noted for his radical and colourful ways who had a long history of working hard for union and community members through his advocacy. The Ontario Supreme Court ultimately declared Talbot not criminally responsible by reason of insanity resulting in an indefinite rehabilitory sentence to a mental asylum. These men’s lives and Brooks’ death can be better understood by historically examining the systems that surrounded them, especially by examining the social forces that shaped the expectations placed on them by their communities. Using academic sources and newspaper accounts of these events, this paper seeks to analyze factors that may have contributed to the shooting and the context in which it occurred. At a time when discussions of labour rights, civil rights and the criminal justice system are once again enflamed, this story seems especially apt for re-examination.
Dr. Miriam Wright
Dr. Steven Palmer
Master of Arts
Major Research Paper