Monday, September 14, 2009

Crystal Lee Sutton, RIP

Crystal Lee Sutton, the inspiration for the film Norma Rae, has passed.

Sutton's story of standing up for herself and the rights of her fellow workers is a great example of the difference one person can make. She's a true labor hero. Sadly, as a textile worker, her fate would not have been to stay in the mills even if management hadn't fired her, because, in the end, they wanted to move those plants to the developing world as fast as possible. In those countries, they can just kill the labor organizers.

It's also interesting to think about Norma Rae today. Made in 1978, it's only 30 years ago. But there's no way that movie could come out today. A major motion picture about a labor organizer? With a major star? No freaking way. Young Americans barely know what a labor union is and what they know is usually right-wing lies that they have heard somewhere. There once was a day when labor and the struggles of working-class people could be a mainstream and even popular topic in the American media and arts. That day has passed.