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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Graham, March 22, 1999. Interview K-0434. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growth threatens African Americans in Mooresville

Changes in Mooresville have brought the town's major employer of African Americans to the brink of closing, and "race car drivers" are buying up businesses. It seems that Mooresville is experiencing, or is about to experience, a demographic shift.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Graham, March 22, 1999. Interview K-0434. 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

AMANDA COVINGTON:
I was talking to one woman who came, a white woman who came to Mooresville about the time that Burlington was bought - or it used to be owned by …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Mooresville Mills …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
There was a family-oh, the Abernathy family, I think she said …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
They had owned it. She kind of talked about how when Burlington bought that …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Bought the mill - did things in town kind of seem to change?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Change?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
With that, or just kind of more people moving in, kind of …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, it changed. When Burlington come in, Mooresville mill, they didn't work too many blacks, they worked some but not too many, but when Burlington come in, I mean, it gave the blacks a chance of getting in the mills here. Now, I worked at Cascade mill before Burlington bought Cascade out, Cascade, before I went in the army I worked at Cascade. Now it, it was Celanese plant. They used a lot of black up there - they had more that than they had at Mooresville mill.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Huh, that's interesting …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Beause Celanese owned that and they hired a lot of black people. But Burlington was hard, they wouldn't hire black people till, I mean, Mooresville Mill until they sold out …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Sold out.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So, now, would you say within the black community, is Burlington still the largest employer?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, but Burlington's closing up.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh, okay …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
The one that I passed when I came in here?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-hum. That's Burlington.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
And they've officially closed …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, they're going out of business next month.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
That's right- they're going out of business, yeah.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh. Yeah. [Coughs]
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So as of right now, would you say, right now, not realizing that it's going to close next month, but uh, would you say right now that they're the biggest employer within the black community?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, yeah, but these race car drivers are coming in here and taking over now.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
They're buying up everything.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Is there any- does anyone see any plan for being able to - what's going to happen after Burlington closes? Is there any plans?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Burlington - well, there's people already looking at it