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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Political participation among mill workers

The Finleys reflect on their participation in politics. Sam had been registrar for their precinct for many years, and Vesta recalled the suffrage battles for women.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
As far as any kind of political work around here, have you supported candidates in town, or supported school board people that you thought would be good? Have you been active in any political party?
VESTA FINLEY:
Oh, he was the register here for this precinct here for how many years? Fourteen?
SAM FINLEY:
I don't know. And then, ever since I was old enough to vote I picked out the one I wanted to vote for and done what I could for him.
VESTA FINLEY:
Worked for him.
SAM FINLEY:
Regardless: Democrats, mostly.
VESTA FINLEY:
Now he's a radical Democrat. And I vote for the man.
SAM FINLEY:
I do too, but I always find him on the Democratic side.
VESTA FINLEY:
I didn't like Nixon much. Of course, you have to belong to the Democratic party to vote in the primary.
SAM FINLEY:
Not any more you don't, nowadays.
VESTA FINLEY:
No you don't, but you used to have to when I first joined. But I try to keep up with the candidates, and the one in my own mind that I make up to think would be the best representative of the people, I vote for him whether it's Democrat or Republican. I don't go in for this. . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
You haven't been able to win her over to a party line?
SAM FINLEY:
No. We don't have no trouble; she goes her way and I go mine. I don't tell her what to do, and she needn't try to tell me! Marion Roydhouse: When did you first vote?
VESTA FINLEY:
Oh, I guess I was about nineteen years old, twenty, somewhere.
SAM FINLEY:
No you wasn't. You had to be twenty-one years old to register.
VESTA FINLEY:
Oh yes, that's right, at first. But it got to eighteen now. Marion Roydhouse: Do you remember the suffrage fight? You would have been pretty young. Do you remember the fuss over women getting the vote.
VESTA FINLEY:
Oh yes, that's back in 1921. I could fight! When you think about back in those days, if women committed a crime they got the same sentence as a man. And yet they didn't have the privilege of voting to say who can do this and who can do that. That's why I say women can sympathize with colored people. You know, you're living in a different age, girl. You have freedom that women back then. . . . Why, it was a disgrace for a woman who thought about going and voting, you know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you ever remember your mother voting?
VESTA FINLEY:
She never participated in anything like that. But my father was very active in things of that nature. No, women back in those days didn't. Marion Roydhouse: Do you remember the North Carolina Suffrage League? Did you ever have have anything to do with people who were fighting for the vote?
VESTA FINLEY:
No, I wasn't old enough at that time, you know. Marion Roydhouse: You didn't sign any petitions, or anything like that?
VESTA FINLEY:
No. Let me see, that was back when I was just a little girl.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But ever since you were old enough, twenty-one, you've been. . . .
VESTA FINLEY:
I vote every time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Have either of you ever run for office around here, other than for registrar?
VESTA FINLEY:
No.