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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, April 30, 1976. Interview G-0049-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growing interest in social justice while working for Champion Paper and Fiber Company

Queen briefly discusses her years working for the Champion Paper and Fiber Company in Canton, North Carolina. A factory worker from 1930 to 1940, Queen explains how her experiences as a worker during these years piqued her interested in issues of social justice. In particular, she emphasizes her admiration for the Roosevelts and the New Deal. In addition, she notes that her ideas about social justice were beginning to shape her views about religion at this time.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, April 30, 1976. Interview G-0049-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

In 1930, I graduated from high school and I went to work at the Champion Paper and Fiber Company. I went to work for eighteen cents a hour and very soon, the wages were cut to sixteen cents. When the New Deal came into being after Roosevelt was elected, I was making fourteen cents an hour, working nine hours a day. Joe Glazer has this wonderful labor song on a recording of labor songs, which he calls "From Can't See to Can't See", and I very much identify with that, because during the middle of the Depression, I worked from "Can't See to Can't See," in the winter. I went to work before daylight and came home after dark, nine hours a day for fourteen cents an hour. I can remember as well as if it were yesterday, the day that the National Recovery Act became law. Someone came to the cutter, I was working on a paper cutter, and told me that the National Recovery Act had just been passed and that we would now make a minimum wage of forty cents an hour and that we would work a minimum of forty hours a week. So, this is why I am a New Deal Democrat and it is why I admired the Roosevelts so well. I don't make any claims to be a student of the Roosevelt era, but I was a recepient of the social change which Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt brought into being. I worked in the paper mill until 1940.
Did you do the same job all those years?
No, I started out as a paper sorter and then I worked at the paper cutter and then the last and I guess the best job I had was as a paper inspector. I learned a lot during those …actually it was ten and a half years that I worked. I came to understand some of the forces in our society which I felt needed to be changed and I had come to the point, or pretty nearly come to the point, before I left Champion that the church had no interest or concern about working people. I was very active in the church during my formative years. I was a member of the Spring Hill Baptist Church and I was baptized in a pond, a creek. I was very much a fundamentalist at that time and my religion, now as I reflect back on it, had much too much emotional aspects to it. I did understand something of the necessity for a social implication of the faith and by the time I went to Berea, I was moving close to the point where I felt the church had no social message.