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Oral History Interview with Clyde Cook, July 10, 1977. Interview H-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • 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.
    Excerpts
  • Experience of segregated schooling
  • Racial hierarchies at Alcoa Aluminum Company
  • African American life in "the Quarters"
  • Unionization and African American workers at Alcoa
  • Lack of job opportunities for African Americans in Stanley County, North Carolina
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • 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
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.