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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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“Living in Two Worlds”

“Living in Two Worlds”

Civil Rights and Southern Textiles

Chapter:
(p.157) 6 “Living in Two Worlds”
Source:
Looking South
Author(s):

Mary E. Frederickson

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813036038.003.0007

This chapter places race at the center of an analysis of textile employment patterns across the twentieth century. Based on interviews with African American textile workers at a specific historical moment, namely, the years immediately after the legal consequences of Plessy v. Ferguson were overturned, this chapter argues that the participation of black workers in southern industry has long been underestimated. It uncovers evidence of interracial workforces in southern mills and a sub rosa work system that operated inside southern mills and factories in which black workers were paid directly by white employees to complete jobs that included spinning and operating looms. This system continued into the 1970s and 1980s, even after the southern industrial workforce became less overtly segregated by race and gender. Using the textile industry as the prototype of southern industrialization, this chapter calls for further study of racialized hiring patterns in the southern industrial workforce.

Keywords:   twentieth century, Plessy v. Ferguson, black workers, southern industry, textile industry

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