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Austin McCoy

Assistant Professor

Teaching Fields

  • 20th Century United States

  • African-American History

  • U.S. Left and Labor

  • U.S. Social Movements


  • PhD, University of Michigan

  • MA, The Ohio State University
  • BA, The Ohio State University, Mansfield

Research Interests

Dr. McCoy's research interests focus on African American history, the U.S. left, labor and political economy, and social movements and activism. His current manuscript project, tentatively titled, The Quest for Democracy:  Black Power, New Left, and Progressive Politics in the Post-Industrial Midwest revises conventional explanations emphasizing the separation and decline of Black Power and the New Left in the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s. The Quest for Democracy is organized around six case studies of activists in Detroit, Chicago, and in the state of Ohio organizing for participatory democracy in urban development, foreign policy, and the industrial economy. Ultimately, the project shows how progressives scored victories in local elections as well as anti-war and anti-police violence campaigns and their struggles against deindustrialization influenced national political discourse.

Dr. McCoy is also public scholar, utilizing history to comment on contemporary issues related to politics and culture in numerous media outlets including the Washington Post, Nursing Clio, Black Perspectives, CNN, and Truthout.

At WVU, Dr. McCoy teaches a variety of courses in U.S., African American, and labor history, and works with graduate students who focus on studying the experiences of African Americans, organized labor, race, politics, and social movements. 

Courses Offered

  • HIST 261:  Recent America:  U.S. Since 1918
  • HIST 452:  African-American History Since 1900

  • HIST 470:  The Civil Rights Movement


The Quest for Democracy:  Black Power, New Left, and Progressive Politics in the Post-Industrial Midwest (book manuscript in progress, under contract with University of North Carolina Press)

“’Disorganize the State’: The Black Workers’ Congress’s Visions of Abolition-Democracy in the 1970s,” Labor and Employment Relations Association Research, Vol. 22 (Forthcoming)

“Detroit Under STRESS:  The Campaign to Stop Police Killings and the Criminal State in Detroit,” Journal of Civil and Human Rights 7:2 (Spring/Summer 2021)

“Prison Unions and Mass Incarceration: Prospects for an Improbable Alliance,” New Labor Forum (Winter 2017).

“Bringing the Social Back:  Rethinking the Declension Narrative of Twentieth     Century U.S. Labor History,” Social History Vol. 41, Issue 1 (February 2016)