Joey Fink, a PhD candidate in History and current McColl Fellow at CSAS, will present findings from her dissertation research titled “In Good Faith: How Millhands, Feminists, Preachers, and Nuns Built a Workers’ Rights Coalition in the 1970s South.” Lunch will be be provided.
In 1974, something extraordinary happened in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. A majority of the 3000 workers at the J.P. Stevens textile mills voted for union representation. After a decade of unsuccessful organizing drives throughout the recently integrated southern mills, union activists had a small victory that they hoped would have a domino effect in the mostly unorganized southern textile industry. But Stevens stalled on negotiations over a contract in the following years, and the union faced a dilemma. A courtroom battle would be costly and prolonged; a strike was out of the question.
That’s when civil rights activists, unionists, working-class men and women, feminists, and religious leaders came together in a diverse coalition in support of the Stevens workers. The coalition preached from the pulpit, in the aisles of department stores, and at stockholder meetings that the struggle for a contract was a human rights struggle. The coalition mounted a successful public shaming campaign against Stevens, and their most powerful weapons were the stories of the women at the center of the struggle. From the Catholic nuns who went undercover as workers in the mills to the African American women who filed a class-action discrimination lawsuit against Stevens to the elderly white women who testified before Congress, the stories of these many “Norma Raes” united a diverse group of activists together, garnered enormous public support, and forced the nation’s second-largest textile corporation to negotiate with its workers in good faith.
Join us for a lunchtime lecture by Rachel Willis, Professor of American Studies, discussing “Why the Panama Canal Expansion Matters to the Southern U.S.”
Construction on the Panama Canal’s “Third Set of Locks,” which began in 2008 and is projected for completion in 2015, will double the canal’s capacity and impact the global shipping industry. Half of the world’s container ships are too large to fit through the canal at present, and new container ships continue to be built ever bigger. The expansion project involves deepening approach channels in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, widening and deepening the Culebra Cut, constructing new locks on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides, and raising the maximum operating levels at Gatun Lake.
Willis, a labor economist, will explain how a larger, deeper Panama Canal – and the ability to ship goods more cheaply – could translate into expanded opportunities for American workers as well as reducing dependence on carbon-based fuels. You can read more about Professor Willis’s work and view a slide show of her photographs here.
Join us for lunch at the Center on Tuesday, November 5, when Anton Hieke will share his research on “Jews in Reconstruction Georgia and the Carolinas.”
Anton Hieke is a native of Wolfen, Germany. He earned his PhD in American Studies at the University Halle-Wittenberg last year, with a dissertation on “German-Jewish Immigrants of Reconstruction Georgia and the Carolinas.” The revised version has appeared as Jewish Identity in the Reconstruction South (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2013).
Join us on Monday, October 28 for a lunchtime discussion with Christopher B. Teuton, Coordinator of American Indian and Indigenous Studies at UNC. The talk will focus on “Writing and Editing in a Cherokee Cultural Context: a Backstory of Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club.”
Dr. Teuton’s book (UNC Press, 2012) is the first collection of ethnographically recorded Western Cherokee oral traditional stories published in over forty years. In this talk, he describes the textual and cultural politics that he and the four Cherokee elders who comprise the Turtle Island Liars’ Club negotiated as they recorded, wrote, and edited this important contribution to Cherokee cultural knowledge and social history.
Dr. Teuton is Associate Professor of American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, he teaches Indigenous Textual and Cultural Studies within the American Indian Studies and Folklore curriculum of the American Studies Department. Dr. Teuton’s scholarship is in the forefront of developing Indigenous research methodologies within the study of Indigenous literature. Read an interview with Dr. Teuton by Daily Tar Heel reporter Hunter Toro here.
Please join us on October 3rd for a lunchtime lecture by one of UNC’s foremost “engaged scholars,” Hannah Gill from the Institute for the Study of the Americas.
Welcome sign in High Point, NC
Over the past four decades, the South has experienced rapid demographic changes, with some of the nation’s fastest growing immigrant populations. North Carolina is at the center of these transformations: from 2000-2010, the state’s foreign-born populations grew at more than double the national rate, with Latino/a populations increasing to nearly a million people. North Carolina’s immigrants face many barriers to integration, including higher poverty and school drop-out rates, more likely victimization from hate crimes, and below average wages.
Gill, the director of the UNC Latino Migration Project, will describe how local governments in North Carolina are working with immigrants and refugees to implement comprehensive integration strategies through a program called Building Integrated Communities. She will discuss how this long-term planning and leadership development process is shaped by local actors, histories, and politics. A UNC alumna, Gill is the author of The Latino Migration Experience in North Carolina: New Roots in the Old North State (UNC Press, 2010). Gill’s community partner from High Point, Alvena Heggins, was recently honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change.”