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Cynthia Sykes Cook recalls the closing of the White Furniture Factory in Mebane, North Carolina.
A writer and editor for the
Charlotte Observer, L. M. Wright offers his insider's perspective on the changing political landscape of Charlotte, North Carolina, from the late 1950s into the early 1970s. Throughout the interview, Wright emphasizes the intersections of race, economics, and urban renewal in the consolidation of local politics.
Lawrence Ridgle describes his childhood in Durham, North Carolina, during the 1930s and his belief that urban renewal of the 1960s and 1970s ultimately worked to the detriment of African Americans. In this interview—the first of two—he emphasizes the changing nature of the African American community in Durham during his lifetime.
Lifelong Chatham County, North Carolina, resident Nancy Brown Tysor describes the changes she has witnessed in Siler City.
William I. Ward Jr. served on the Charter Commission that created a proposal to consolidate Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He describes the work of the Commission and opposition to consolidation in the northern part of the community.
Jean Cole Hatcher became president of Cole Manufacturing Company, her family's business, in 1953. Hatcher describes her family's history in the Piedmont, the establishment and evolution of the Cole Manufacturing Company in the industry of agricultural technology, and she illuminates life in Charlotte, North Carolina—both for workers and as an economic center of industry.
This is the second interview in a two-part series with southern lawyer Ted Fillette of the Legal Aid Society of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. In this interview, Fillette focuses on his work as a legal advocate of tenant and welfare rights from the 1970s into the early twenty-first century. Throughout, he discusses the legal and political measures taken to ameliorate housing conditions for low-income tenants and to ensure that low-income people have access to social welfare services.
Billy E. Barnes is a photographer who is known for his documentary work on racial and economic justice issues in the 1950s and 1960s. In this interview, Barnes discusses his work with the North Carolina Fund and the organization's efforts at breaking the cycle of poverty in North Carolina. He also offers descriptions of his photography of impoverished people in North Carolina.
North Carolina doctor Carroll Lupton recalls his days practicing medicine in the mill town of Burlington, North Carolina. Focusing primarily on the 1930s, Lupton talks about providing medical care to poor mill workers. Lupton emphasizes medical treatment for pregnant women, treatment of venereal disease, and popular medical remedies of the day.
Clay East was a founding member of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. In this interview, he describes life in Tyronza, Arkansas, during the 1920s and 1930s; his conversion to socialism; his observation of the problems of tenant farmers and sharecroppers; and his role in the formation of the union during the early 1930s.
Nancy Holt, raised in North Carolina's Cane Creek community and a member of the Cane Creek Conservation Authority, discusses the reaction of the community when UNC and the Orange County Water and Sewer Authority attempted to build a reservoir in Cane Creek.
Herman Norton Truitt describes running a grocery store from the 1920s to the 1940s. The store was patronized primarily by mill workers in Burlington, North Carolina.
Robert Riley Sr. describes his thirty-one years at the White Furniture plant in Mebane, North Carolina, a tenure that ended with the plant's closing in 1993.
Koka Booth, former mayor of Cary, North Carolina, describes the growth of his city during his twelve-year tenure.
Andy K. Foley lost his job when the White Furniture Company closed, but he lost friendships and a playful work atmosphere as well. In this interview he recalls the fun he had on the job and laments the factory's closing.
Martina Dunford became the program director of the Edgemont Community Center in Durham, North Carolina, in the 1990s. In this interview, she discusses the work of the center in promoting community solidarity; relations between the predominantly African American population and the rapidly growing Latino population in Edgemont; and race relations in Durham as compared to her experiences in Norfolk, Virginia.
During the course of her career, Josephine Glenn worked in several mills around Burlington, North Carolina, allowing her to compare the textile factories in Burlington and their various working environments. She covers many topics, including wartime production, the end of segregation, and the changing roles of women in the factories.
Charlotte, North Carolina, political operative Allen Bailey shares his thoughts on politics and community.
Southern novelist Harriette Arnow discusses what it was like to grow up in Kentucky during the 1910s and 1920s. The teacher-turned-writer focuses especially on her family relationships, her experiences in school and in teaching, her goals as a writer, and her views on marriage and family.
Barbara Hanks remembers her career at the White Furniture Company and the effects of the company's closing on her community in Mebane, North Carolina.
Tracy L. H. Burnett finds financial success after the closing of the White Furniture Company.
Vickie Jacobs describes her career in North Carolina's furniture industry, including her time on the job and her response to the closing of the Hillsborough location of the White Furniture Company.
George Watts Hill was a prominent business leader in the Durham area during the twentieth century. He offers his perspective on the changing nature of business and its impact on the community. In particular, he describes his business endeavors in such areas as banking, insurance, land development, dairy farming, and public service.
Edna Yandell Hargett describes life and work in North Charlotte, a mill village in Charlotte, North Carolina. Focusing primarily on the 1920s through the 1940s, Hargett discusses her work as a weaver in North Charlotte textile mills. In addition, she explains in detail how textile mill workers functioned like "one big family" both at work and in the community.
Ivey C. Jones, who spent sixteen years working at the White Furniture Factory in Mebane, North Carolina, describes the effects of the plant's takeover and closing.
Julius Fry was a textile worker for Mansfield Mill in Lumberton, North Carolina from 1927 to 1943. During the early years of the Great Depression, Fry was increasingly drawn to labor activism, especially after the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the rise of the New Deal. Fry describes what it was like to work at the Mansfield Mill, the organization of a union in Lumberton, and his own role within the labor movement in the South.
Wilbur Hobby describes growing up impoverished in Durham, North Carolina, during the Great Depression and his eventual involvement in the labor movement. Employed by the American Tobacco Company after World War II, he became an active member of the union and eventually became a leader in such organizations as the Voters for Better Government and the Committee on Political Education.
Southern sociologist Guion Griffis Johnson describes her work with the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare during the 1940s and her involvement with the women's movement and civil rights activism during the 1960s and 1970s in North Carolina. She discusses strategies for effecting change, the achievements of the Georgia Conference in promoting awareness of social welfare and race-related issues, and the progress of women and African Americans in their struggle for equality.
Oscar Dearmont Baker spent his childhood and most of his adult life in Conover, North Carolina. In this interview, he describes his experiences working in the furniture and hosiery industries, paying particular attention to his time spent at Conover Furniture. He also describes broader changes within the city of Conover.
New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu describes the changing political landscape of the Crescent City following World War II through his tenure as mayor in the 1970s. Stressing the importance of voter registration and the appointment of African American public officials, Landrieu emphasizes the role of political leadership in effecting real change in New Orleans race relations during the long years of the civil rights movement.
Cary Joseph Allen Jr. an aluminum worker for Alcoa in Badin, North Carolina, describes the establishment of a local branch of the Aluminum Workers of America in the mid-1930s. Initial efforts at organization were hampered by the strong paternalistic influence Alcoa exerted over the community, yet efforts to unionize succeeded by 1937.
Orlin P. Shuping describes running a mill in Rowan County, North Carolina.
Murphy Yomen Sigmon reflects on a working life, most of which he spent in a cotton mill in Hickory, North Carolina.
Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch remembers her childhood in an African American neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida, and her experiences with segregation and development.
L. Worth Harris discusses the trucking company he started in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the early 1930s.
Clyda Coward, joined by her daughter Debra and other family members, reflects on her childhood in rural North Carolina and the state of the small community of Tick Bite in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd.
Louise Pointer Morton describes life in rural Granville County, North Carolina, during the early twentieth century. In addition to describing social gatherings and living conditions, Morton speaks at length about her formerly enslaved grandmother's role in the founding of the Jonathon (Johnson) Creek Church, alluding to the centrality of religion as a preeminent social institution within southern African American communities.
Mack Pearsall recalls his father's role in the Pearsall Plan, a school desegregation strategy in post-
Brown North Carolina that allowed parents to move their children to non-integrated schools. He expresses faith that economic progress will positively affect the state's race relations.
Alester G. Furman Jr. describes his family's involvement in the founding of Furman University in the early 1800s, his father's role in the establishment of the textile industry in Greenville, South Carolina, and the evolution of the textile industry over the course of the early twentieth century.
Sam Parker, Madison County Probation and Parole Officer, praises rural life in the interview.
State representative Edith Warren describes the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in Pitt County, North Carolina.
John W. Snipes grew up in an agricultural family during the early twentieth century and worked on a farm, in a cotton mill, and in the timber industry. He offers a unique perspective on various industries, and he describes in vivid detail various aspects of workers' lives and culture.
Mars Hill, North Carolina, mayor Raymond Rapp outlines his vision for planned development and discusses how to find balance between the desire for a small-town feel and a big-town economy.
This is the first interview in a two-part series with southern lawyer Ted Fillette of the Legal Aid Society of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Fillette describes his childhood in Mobile, Alabama; his involvement in civil rights activism as a student at Duke during the 1960s; his work with the VISTA program in Boston; and his early work as a legal advocate of people displaced by urban renewal in Charlotte, North Carolina, during the 1970s.
Frances Pauley was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, during the early twentieth century. An advocate for the poor and of racial integration, Pauley served as president of the Georgia League of Women Voters in the 1940s and 1950s, where she focused specifically on integration of public schools. In 1960, she became director of the Georgia Council on Human Relations and worked within the civil rights movement to promote African American leadership and interracial organizations.
Millie Tripp describes her career at the White Furniture Factory, focusing on weathering a merger and a plant closing.
Steve Holland, a Republican county commissioner and businessman in Pender County, North Carolina, describes the personal and bureaucratic struggles he faced the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd.
Pharmacist William Fonvielle mourns the passing of black economic autonomy and communal unity in Savannah, Georgia.
Chandrika Dalal describes her experiences as an Indian immigrant in the United States.
John Thomas Outlaw, who headed the rate bureau of the North Carolina Motor Carriers Association, discusses the history of the trucking industry in North Carolina.
Ethel Bowman Shockley and her daughter Hazel Shockley Cannon describe life and work in the mill town of Glen Raven, North Carolina. Shockley worked at the Plaid Mill from 1927 to 1964; she describes how working conditions changed through the Depression, World War II, and the postwar years.
Margaret Skinner Parker recalls life in the mill town of Cooleemee, North Carolina, in the first half of the twentieth century, sharing recollections of fun and financial struggle.
Leslie Thorbs describes growing up in a tenant farming family in eastern North Carolina, during the 1920s and 1930s. Thorbs describes his experiences with poverty, farming, factory work, race relations, and family life. He concludes the interview by discussing the devastating impact of Hurricane Floyd's flooding on his family and his community.
North Carolina business leader and former Commerce Secretary S. Davis (Dave) Phillips discusses his personal successes as a businessman in High Point and his successes as Commerce Secretary under Governor Jim Martin.
A black sharecropper's daughter discusses her difficult upbringing on the farm and the many stories of slavery on which she was raised.
William Dallas Herring discusses his rise to membership and tenure on the North Carolina State Board of Education and the struggle to create a community college system.
Christine Galliher describes life and work in Elizabethton, Tennessee, during the late 1920s through the 1940s. She also discusses their participation in the 1929 walk-out strike at the Bermberg and Glantzstoff textile mills; Christine's attendance of the Southern Summer School for women workers; life during the Great Depression; and balancing work and family.
Bonnie Cone describes her career as an educator in South Carolina and North Carolina during the first half of the twentieth century. After teaching at Duke University during World War II, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and became one of the primary personages behind the successful establishment of a university in that city.
Emily S. MacLachlan grew up in the early twentieth century in Jackson, Mississippi, in a family that advocated relatively progressive ideas about race. MacLachlan describes her mother's efforts to balance family life with social activism (specifically with the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching), her own academic endeavors, and her advocacy of civil rights and radical politics during the 1930s.
Lacy Wright worked for Cone Mills in Greensboro, North Carolina, for nearly fifty years, from the late 1910s at the age of twelve to the mid-1960s. He describes work in the textile industry, life in the mill villages, and the role of the labor movement in the southern textile industry during a large stretch of the twentieth century.
Lawrence Ridgle, a near-lifelong resident of Durham, North Carolina, discusses his family's work at the American Tobacco Company and his role of leadership in the newly integrated United States Army during the early 1950s. In addition, he discusses the changing nature of the African American community, focusing on perceived threats to its solidarity, and the impact of demographic changes, primarily the rapidly growing Latino community.
Martha W. Evans was already an active participant in Charlotte, North Carolina, politics when she was elected as a state legislator in 1962. In this interview, she describes local and state politics as they related to the great physical and economic growth Charlotte experienced from the late 1950s into the 1970s.
Mill workers Carl and Mary Thompson describe their experiences as skilled employees and active members of their local communities.
Naomi Elizabeth Morris grew up in Wilson, North Carolina, during the 1920s and 1930s. After graduating from college in the early 1940s, she worked as a legal secretary before attending the School of Law at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. One of the only women to graduate with her class in 1955, Morris practiced law for twelve years before becoming one of the original judges to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
Lloyd and Betty Parker Davidson grew up in Danville, Virginia, during the 1910s and 1920s. After establishing themselves as weavers in Danville, they moved to Burlington, North Carolina, in 1932 to work at the Plaid Mill. In this interview, they describe their experiences as weavers, focusing especially on working conditions in the 1930s and 1940s.
Thomas Henderson was born in Brookneal, Virginia, a small, tobacco farming community. He later became a tobacco buyer in Greenville, North Carolina. Focusing on the tobacco industry in the 1930s and 1940s, Henderson explains the establishment of gradation policies for the tobacco industry as a New Deal reform measure, the process of buying and selling tobacco at auction, and changes in tobacco farming.
Asa T. Spaulding, the first African American actuary in North Carolina and former president of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, recalls his early life and weighs his contributions to the insurance business and society at large.
Civil rights activist Suzanne Post speaks about what motivated her commitment to social justice. Though she is best known for her work to overcome race-based segregated education in Louisville and to launch Louisville's Metropolitan Housing Coalition, Post insists that her most important work centered on women's rights.
Flake and Nellie Meyers describe what it was like to live and work in and around Conover, North Carolina, during the early to mid-twentieth century. As a worker in various furniture companies and as the foreman at the Southern Desk Company, Flake Meyers describes in vivid detail the various kinds of skills involved in furniture making, the role of machinery in the industry, and workplace relationships. Nellie Meyers similarly describes the kinds of family labor systems and social customs that shaped their lives.
Howard Kester was a pacifist and social reformer in the South from the early 1920s through the 1960s. In this interview, he focuses on his adherence to pacifism, Christianity, the Social Gospel, and Socialism. He describes his work to end injustices associated with race and labor, and assesses the work of prominent social justice leaders in the South during the 1920s and 1930s.
Eula McGill grew up in Sugar Valley, Georgia, during the early twentieth century. Raised in a working class family, McGill had to leave school because of her family's economic hardships and began to work in a textile mill as a spinner at the age of 14. By the late 1920s, McGill had moved to Alabama, where she became a leader in the labor movement in Selma. Throughout the Great Depression, McGill primarily worked as a labor organizer, first for the Women's Trade Union League and later for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union.
Terry Sanford—former state senator, governor, president of Duke University, and member of the United States Senate—describes Democratic politics in North Carolina.
Josephine Dobbs Clement talks about her various civic roles, including her activity as a member of the League of Women Voters, the Durham City-County Charter Commission, the Board of Education, and the Board of County Commissioners. She also discusses her efforts on behalf of social justice and her views on race, gender, and environmental issues.
Ralph Waldo Strickland grew up on an Alabama farm before joining the navy and later making a career with the Seaboard Railroad. He offers a range of recollections concerning his childhood in the rural South, his encounters with the Roosevelts following their relocation in 1921 to Hot Springs, Georgia, and life as a railroad worker and union member.
Tawana Belinda Wilson-Allen recalls her community activist work and her service as a congressional liaison for Congressman Mel Watt. She assesses the tensions between lower-income and wealthier residents in Charlotte, North Carolina.
H. M. Michaux, a Durham, North Carolina, state representative, describes the role of black electoral politics in North Carolina's state government. He reflects on staying power of the Republican Party in southern politics.
Jim Goodnight describes the founding and growth of his corporation, SAS.
In this second part of an extensive two-part interview series, Viola Turner discusses race relations in Durham and her experiences working for North Carolina Mutual. Turner offers vivid and detailed anecdotes that reveal the intricate social and professional network of Durham, primarily in the 1920s and 1930s.
Frank Durham discusses how his family first came to work in the mills and describes other people they got to know there. He describes the inner workings of the mill, the ways management negotiated labor complaints with the employees, the social structure of the mill village, and the commonalities of mill town life.
Geddes Dodson worked as a textile mill employee for sixty years. During that time, he progressed through the factory's employment hierarchy, seeing many different aspects of life within the mills. He often focuses on issues involving masculinity and unionism.
Civil rights activist and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) mentor Ella Josephine Baker outlines her family history, traces her growing radical tendencies, and explains the catalysts that pushed her into public activism. In this interview she discusses her work not only with SNCC, but also with the Workers' Education Project, the Cooperative League, and the NAACP.
Mareda Sigmon Cobb and her sister Carrie Sigmon Yelton both worked long careers in North Carolina textile mills, completing the family journey from farm to factory in the early decades of the twentieth century. Here they describe their family lives both as children and parents, the many implications of the Depression, working conditions in the mills, religion, and other themes central to social and labor history. The economic and material realities of textile employment are explored in detail; each suffered a major injury on the job, neither favored unionization (though their husbands did), and neither received a pension.
Beginning with her family background and early childhood, Adamson traces the dynamics that led her to adopt her radical stance later in life. She also responds to the accusations that she had been a Communist spy and explains how the Red Scare affected her life.
Virginia Foster Durr discusses her early life and how she became aware of the social justice problems plaguing twentieth-century America. In this first part of a three-interview series, Durr describes her life on the plantation when she was a child; race issues in Birmingham, where she grew up; and how her views began to change when she left Birmingham to attend Wellesley College.
Virginius Dabney traces his involvement with the school desegregation crisis in post-1954 Virginia. Dabney's political and social beliefs about integration appeared in the newspaper he edited, the
Richmond Times-Dispatch. This interview spans the breadth of his career from the 1920s to the 1970s.