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Looking SouthRace, Gender, and the Transformation of Labor from Reconstruction to Globalization$
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Mary E. Frederickson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813036038

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813036038.001.0001

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Labor Looks South

Labor Looks South

Theory and Practice in Southern Textile Organizing

Chapter:
(p.137) 5 Labor Looks South
Source:
Looking South
Author(s):

Mary E. Frederickson

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813036038.003.0006

This chapter examines the theoretical analysis organized labor developed in its efforts to unionize southern workers, particularly in the textile industry, the region's prototype for industrial development. Focusing on the infamous southern labor strikes in the first years of the Great Depression reveals the historical moment when the nation's union leadership, faced with dwindling ranks, realized that the survival of the labor movement itself depended on the organization of southern workers in every American industry. Few labor leaders heeded the alarm of one activist that “this southern task … looms as a giant” until the militant actions of southern workers themselves paved the way for a new form of industrial organizing that underscored the importance of the South in determining the future of the American labor movement.

Keywords:   southern workers, textile industry, industrial development, Great Depression, union leadership

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