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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jim Pierce, July 16, 1974. Interview E-0012-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growing interest in the civil rights movement and migrant workers' problems

Pierce discusses his growing interest in the problems of migrant workers during the late 1950s. In 1956, Pierce began to work for the IUE outside of Texas, spending a lot of time organizing workers in Florida. Here, although most of the workers were highly skilled and primarily white during these years, his involvement in the civil rights movement and minority workers became more intense.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jim Pierce, July 16, 1974. Interview E-0012-3. 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

WILLIAM FINGER:
You didn't work with migrants or black workers that much during those Florida years. This was still mostly highly skilled industry?
JIM PIERCE:
That's right.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And they were mostly just white workers?
JIM PIERCE:
Mostly.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you come in contact with migrants?
JIM PIERCE:
It was in Florida when I resumed my interest in migrants. In my early CIO days, I have done a considerable amount of organizing in Texas, along the Texas coast, and even out around El Paso, I saw and became involved as a part of the Civil Rights struggle some of the problems of migrants. In fact, you know, when you had a day off you couldn't drive all the way to Fort Worth, and a campaign was slack, well a lot of times you'd just drive out and learn things. You know, see people and talk to people. So, I developed an interest in, and I think this probably comes from my own rural background, an interest in problems that they had in the Texas valley, but there wasn't much that we could do about it. We did it through the CIO Council, we did what we could, but it wasn't a lot. But then when I got back to Florida … when I got to Florida as kind of a State Director for IUE, I continued my involvement in the Civil Rights movement, in the political movement, and they were involved with migrants and that is when I first became involved with what we call the eastern stream of migrants, but not very heavily involved.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were learning.
JIM PIERCE:
Learning is right.