Title: Oral History Interview with Clyde Cook, July 10, 1977. Interview H-0003.
Interviewer: Hester, Rosemarie
Interviewee: Cook, Clyde
Subjects: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Steel industry and trade--Employees--Southern States African Americans in steel industry and trade--Southern States
Abstract: In 1916, Clyde Cook's father moved his family to Badin, North Carolina, in order to find a job at Alcoa Aluminum Company. Cook describes growing up in Badin, focusing on his experiences in segregated schools. Because the schools were owned and operated by Alcoa, Cook blames the company for the inequalities he and other African American students experienced. Cook began to work for Alcoa at the age of sixteen; although there were times when he was laid off and found other employment as a journeyman bricklayer, he worked for Alcoa during most of his working life. In describing his experiences at work, Cook focuses on his frustration with racial hierarchies and the limits imposed on mobility for African American workers within the plant. According to Cook, the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 marked a turning point for these kinds of economic injustices, although there were still obstacles along the way. For instance, Cook describes how African Americans were discouraged and intimidated by their employers during the process of unionization. Nevertheless, enough African Americans joined the ranks of organized labor that conditions gradually began to improve for them throughout the 1940s and 1950s in the plant. Finally, Cook briefly discusses his other activities in the community, focusing on his work with the NAACP. At the time of the interview in 1977, Cook was beginning his second year as the president of the NAACP in Stanly County, North Carolina. Cook describes the persistent lack of job opportunities for African Americans and his goal to open new opportunities for them.