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Roughly 140 miles southwest of Louisville, Kentucky a confederate flag flew over the center of a small town called Russellville. A son of sharecroppers and the grandchild of slaves, James Wright was seventeen and recently married, and like many other Americans in 1936 he struggled to find a job. While Gladys Wright worked as a cook in a white home, her husband James alternately cut corn, worked at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and washed cars at the local Chevrolet dealership in an attempt to make ends meet. Of the latter job he recalled, "you worked like a dog" and that the owners Henry and George Page, "called you nigger." (1) Over the next few years Wright made no less than three trips to Louisville to find work, but returned to Russellville each time without success. However, the Wrights were not willing to give up so easily. As James Wright recalled, "I left Russellville on the first day of September 1941, and I never went back no more. I said, "I'm going to stay in Louisville if I have to dig ditches, get put in jail, steal somebody, rob, cut their head off. So I stayed." According to the historian Tony Gilpin, Wright worked a number of odd jobs in Louisville, carrying cross ties for the railroad, doing menial labor for a moving company before he was hired at a construction company owned by DuPont. With the growth of defense industries in the area Wright briefly secured a job at the Vultee Aircraft factory prior to being drafted into the military and sent to Burma. In 1946, Wright chose to return to Louisville, where he found employment with International Harvester and set about the work of settling into his new environment. (2)

22 décembre
Journal of Social History

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