I was doing something I didn't even think I could do: Crystal Lee Sutton and the campaign to unionize J.P. Stevens Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Fink, Joey Ann
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • Crystal Lee Sutton played a prominent role in the labor movement's struggle to organize southern workers in the J.P. Stevens' textile mills in the 1970s. The movie Norma Rae, based on her story, vaulted her into the national spotlight. Sutton's story provides a window into how the labor movement, second-wave feminism, and the Civil Rights Movement intersected in the southern mill towns targeted by the Textile Workers Union of America. An examination of her personal papers, union records, and media coverage reveals that gendered assumptions, racial and class hierarchies, and local, intimate networks of power and knowledge structured and informed her resistance and reactions to it. Sutton provided the union with significant support as she struggled to balance the responsibilities of worker, mother, wife, and unionist. As the real Norma Rae, she negotiated with multiple institutions and people for control over the meaning of her activism.
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  • In Copyright
  • Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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