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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ethel Bowman Shockley, June 24, 1977. Interview H-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reaction of white workers to the integration of a textile mill

Shockley and her daughter talk about the introduction of African Americans as textile workers at Plaid Mill. Before desegregation was fully implemented, Plaid Mill had employed African Americans as janitors. Thus, when they began to work in other positions, many of them were technically second-generation workers in the textile industry. Shockley and Hazel emphasis this in order to reaffirm their earlier statements that Glen Raven was a close knit community in which most families had lived and worked in the industry for more than on generation. Moreover, the excerpt demonstrates how some white workers in this particularly community had a fairly accepting reaction to an integrated workforce.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ethel Bowman Shockley, June 24, 1977. Interview H-0045. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
Are there many black workers in the mills,?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
You see right many now. work. They're nice Once started, eventually. As far as the colored, they've been just as nice as they can be about it. And it's never been a problem to me.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was that a problem right in the beginning?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
No, I think they came in in such few numbers when they started, and we knew we had to accept them.
CLIFF KUHN:
When was that?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
That was back when Mama was still there, when we first started hiring them. We've always had the colored to clean up, janitor work, tending machines. But I don't remember when the women started coming in.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They started hiring them at the Plaid Mill when they desegregated. You had to qualify for a job. You went to the office, and you was interviewed, and you had to be up to the standard of what they would want to get a job. They just didn't say, "Well, come on and go to work." They picked the ones, and that way we had nice colored people work with us.