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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Conrad Odell Pearson, April 18, 1979. Interview H-0218. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The Durham Hosiery Mill and Julian Shakespeare Carr

Pearson discusses the Durham Hosiery Mill, which was established in Durham, North Carolina, for African American textile workers by Julian Shakespeare Carr at the turn of the twentieth century. Pearson recalls his perception of the mill while he was growing up in Durham. In addition, Pearson discusses his perception of Carr, citing both his benevolence for needy people and his reputation for racist declarations, as evidenced by his speech at the 1913 dedication of the Confederate war memorial at UNC.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Conrad Odell Pearson, April 18, 1979. Interview H-0218. 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

WALTER WEARE:
This mill for blacks only that Julian Shakespeare Carr began, do you remember anything about the origins of that? Was it called the O'Daniel Mill?
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
Yes, I think he named it after O'Daniel. And there was some of the most beautiful music you ever heard in your life, if you could pass by there and hear those girls in there working those machines and singing.
WALTER WEARE:
Was it mostly black women who worked there?
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
Yes.
WALTER WEARE:
What did they make?
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
I don't know. I don't have any idea about it. Whether the salaries were equal, I do not know.
WALTER WEARE:
I was wondering what they manufactured. I heard that they made …
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
Stockings.
WALTER WEARE:
… mostly cheaper stockings.
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
Yes. Those gray-looking socks they used to make.
WALTER WEARE:
And they made the better textiles over at the other mill, is what I heard.
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
Yes. They made stockings for females, I think.
WALTER WEARE:
What do you think about Carr's motivation in that, given his role with your uncle? Do you think that he was just interested in cheap labor, or was he interested in doing something?
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
They tell me that Carr really did have a concern for people less fortunate than himself. A fellow told me once that when they would have depression conditions that Carr would fill up his wagons and send them down with his servants and carry flour and meat to the needy families in the Negro community.
WALTER WEARE:
What about the issue of voting, though, or getting the franchise for blacks?
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
I imagine he would have been opposed to that. He called himself "General" [Julian] S. Carr. I don't think he was ever a general in the Army in the Civil War; I think he was a self-styled… Another fellow did an article on that, and he said that Julian S. Carr beat some Negro woman in the streets of Chapel Hill.
WALTER WEARE:
Yes, I've read that. He might have been quoting something I found. I quote that in the book on the Mutual.
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
I forget this fellow's name. He came to me, and he gave me a copy of his book. He was interested in slavery, and Carr's name came up some way, and he told me that Carr allegedly whipped a Negro woman in the streets of Chapel Hill.
WALTER WEARE:
Carr gave a speech when they erected the Confederate Memorial on the lawn of the University at Chapel Hill, in which he said that that's what this memorial meant, that it was dedicated to those Confederate soldiers who, despite the loss, their loyalty to an idea of white supremacy, along with the Ku Klux Klan, made it possible that there would not be black domination. And then he went on to tell this story about how he whipped this black woman because she had insulted a southern lady; he meant a white lady. Now whether he did or not, or whether he was just, you know …
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
Anyway, that's rumor.
WALTER WEARE:
… giving the speech to… This was in 1913 he gave the speech.