Why ‘Norma Rae’ wasn’t ‘Crystal Lee’

“Because of legal difficulties, [director Martin] Ritt later promoted the movie as ‘a fictionalized composite of several such women who became militantly involved in trying to unionize Southern textile mills.’ Norma Rae would have been called Crystal Lee; the mill worker’s resistance forced the adoption of a fictional name. By holding out beyond a point of a workable compromise, Crystal Lee [Sutton] lost her best opportunity to gain national fame from her personal story.”

— From “History by Hollywood”  by Robert Toplin (2009)

Textile unionism peaked in Roanoke Rapids

On this day in 1974: In a landmark union election, J.P. Stevens employees in seven Roanoke Rapids mills vote to be represented by the Textile Workers Union of America: 1,685 for the union, 1,448 against.

North Carolina’s AFL-CIO President Wilbur Hobby proclaims “a new day in Dixie. J.P. first, the textile industry second and then the whole South.” But it will take the union six discouraging years to negotiate a contract with J.P. Stevens, and union membership both nationally and in North Carolina will drop over the next four decades.


Link dump works weekends to serve you better

— Greensboro to Wilmington by boat?

— Reared in Granville County, he was Tennessee’s wealthiest free black — and a slaveholder.

— The before and after life of a 1956 National Science Fair winner.

— Tobacco heritage may be embarrassment to baseball  in Tampa, but not in Wilson.

— On eve of labor landmark’s demolition, “I grabbed as much paper and stuff as I could.”

— Fontana: a dam site better, now that it’s incorporated.