I got to know Brandon Weber in 2014, when we both worked at the media company Upworthy. That was back before Facebook started messing with algorithms, and top writers at the company were creating web posts garnering millions of hits in a matter of hours. Brandon could get those kind of hits, even when writing about what might seem like a triumvirate of deadly content: history, unions, and worker rights.
He was a natural storyteller, with a passion for history. Over the years I knew him, he reached millions of new readers dusting off important pieces about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, for example, union hero Joe Hill, and labor union activism supporting the National Labor Relations Act.
While I worked as web editor for The Progressive, Brandon created some of our most visited online posts, writing about Black Wall Street, Billie Holiday, the Atlanta washerwomen’s strike, and Eugene Debs.
We were deeply saddened to learn that Brandon died due to heart failure on January 1, 2020, at the age of fifty-six, in Jackson, Michigan. Among those he left behind are two adopted foster sons and his wife Robin Kelly-Weber.
Brandon was prolific. He wrote more than twenty pieces for The Progressive, including a magazine story about the remarkable West Virginia teachers strike in 2019, “This Is in Our Blood.” He produced 575 articles for Upworthy, and also wrote for Liberals Unite, Big Think, and Good.Is magazine. His book Class War, USA: Dispatches from Workers’ Struggles in American History, was published by Haymarket Books in 2018.
Brandon, a union man himself, knew the importance of keeping alive our knowledge of workers’ struggles. He anticipated a large audience of readers hungry to understand more about the increasing divide between the haves and the working class. He built a Facebook page championing unions and labor issues (now kept alive by supporters) to almost 700,000 enthusiastic followers.
Filmmaker Michael Moore recently commented on Brandon’s contributions, and the importance of his work in making this country “a better place.”
To learn more about Brandon’s writing, and efforts being made to support his family, visit the Brandon Weber Memorial Fund.
I will greatly miss Brandon—his expansive, warm presence, and his eagle eye for how to get people’s attention in a busy, polarized world. We lost a gem, and a champion for ordinary folks.