Our nation has lost a great hero and champion of working people. Crystal Lee Sutton was a courageous woman who stood up for herself and her coworkers under the most difficult circumstances. She was an inspiration to organizers in this union and beyond, particularly Southern women who went on to lead their own campaigns after learning from her example.
It’s well-known that Crystal’s story was the inspiration for the academy award-winning 1979 film Norma Rae, but I wish more people knew the real story of Crystal Lee Sutton and her co-workers, and the strength and honor they showed as they fought to organize the textile giant JP Stevens. They stood up and proved that workers in the South could organize and change their jobs and their lives against all odds–across racial lines, and over the objections of anti-worker companies. continue reading

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