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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Segregation of the mills and its eventual end

Though the mills were reserved for white employees for much of the twentieth century, by the early 1970s, African Americans began resigning their positions as domestics and menial laborers in exchange for mill employment. Durham discusses the changes in the racial characteristics of the mills.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. 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

DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Was there enough housing in the village for people that moved in? Did they ever have to build more houses on the hill?
FRANK DURHAM:
There was [enough], but they just wouldn't take but so many. If you lived in a mill house, you'd have to work in the mill. Because they near about furnished them for nothing. Near about nothing. And they had to have their own help in there then. Now they're not. They don't belong to the help. They belong to the folks that live in them, and there are not many of them over there that even work in the mill now. They come from out in the country, and a whole lot of them's colored now. Along then there wasn't any colored in the mill at all, for years. Just about since '72 and '3 and along there, they started getting in a few , which was a good thing for them and the mill, too, a lot of it. It got where you couldn't get white help.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
What about for the people that lived here? Did any of them lose their jobs when colored people came into the mill?
FRANK DURHAM:
No. No, they'd gone somewhere else. Yes, most of them had gone. No. They just hired colored people when they needed them. If they had white folks for it and they was on it, they didn't lay them off to . But they began to hire them because the government wanted you to have a certain percentage of black, if you got government orders, do any government business. I expect they have fifty percent or more who are black now; I know they are, although I haven't been in the mill in a pretty good while. But the third shift's seventy-five percent black, I expect. But they're doing all right. If they don't, they would lay them off and get somebody else. Some of them's good help, real good.