Labor Day was designed to honor the American Labor Movement which pushed for better labor laws and outcomes for American workers. It started as a state holiday in Oregon in 1887 and became federally recognized on June 28, 1894. As some history books will teach you, the ancestors weren’t exactly a part of this movement per se, since the Civil Rights Movement that gave way for some equality laws to take shape didn’t happen until eight decades later.

Turns out, that some of the harsh labor conditions American workers endured were likely a direct result of slavery. Unfortunately, correlations between the workforce and American slavery remain today.

As millions of Americans prepare to enjoy a much-needed day off, Blavity sat down with historian Jason Perkins, Ph.D., to explore the similarities between America’s modern-day workforce and its racist past.