RISE, GONNA RISE: A Portrait of Southern Textile Workers by Mimi Conway

RISE, GONNA RISE: A Portrait of Southern Textile Workers

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Journalist Mimi Conway wisely lets the mill-workers of Roanoke Rapids, No. Carolina, do most of the talking in her indictment of the Southern textile industry. They speak powerfully and plaintively, and it is hard not to see them as pawns in a struggle with giant corporations. ""We've both been blessed,"" says Eula Wood, speaking of herself and her cancer-ridden sister, both of whom have spent their lives in the mill. ""I have brown lung and I'm blind, and I'm still alive."" The corporate giant here, of course, is J. P. Stevens, owner of the Roanoke mills since 1956, and the nation's second largest textile manufacturer. Stevens' workers--most of whom carelessly, uncaringly call the company Stephen-son-won union representation in 1974, and the continuing battle to get a contract signed is well-known. What makes this presentation so effective is the interweaving of factual details--the struggle for representation, the trial for racial discrimination, the role of protests from other parts of the country--with first-person accounts. ""I liked the mills,"" says one woman, remembering the old days when workers were treated to an outing at the beach every year; and another man, dying of brown lung, calls the awareness of the disease ""the onliest reason why these unions got in there now."" Sympathetic without being sentimental--the simple human side of the headlines.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday