'Six Days Thou Shalt Labor': African Americans in the Southern Textile Industry, 1895-1929

Kathryn M. Silva, University of South Carolina


IIn 1897, twenty African American women entered the Beaufort Knitting Mill in Beaufort, South Carolina. They were the vanguard of the hundreds of African Americans to labor in the Southern textile industry. Although textile work was almost exclusively the domain of white laborers, the history of African Americans textile workers represents the resiliency of the African American community as well as white supremacy. This dissertation covers the period, 1895-1929. These three and a half decades saw the legalization of Jim Crow laws; the development of racial uplift organizations; the growth of Southern industry; the rise of labor unions; Progressive Era social agendas; and the influence of communism. Newspaper articles, oral histories, census records, company newsletters, and writings of industrialists collected from archival sources and public records form the basis of this dissertation.