Roanoke Rapids, N.C.
July 18, 1977
Dear Ann: No matter how long I stay here I’m sure to go on feeling like Rip Van Winkle. Twelve years after Mississippi I’m back in a South I still can’t believe. It’s not simply that relations between blacks and whites are better than anything I could have imagined, it’s the number of radical whites (native born) I’m constantly meeting. Even when I allow for the fact that this is the town leading the fight to unionize J. P. Stevens, I’m still astonished. What I wonder is, can this South be made as “interesting” as the old South? If we start winning the brown lung cases we’re taking for hearings, if the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers can begin picking up other mill towns…. I keep thinking all that is dramatic. Enough to get more than a spot on 60 Minutes or the evening news.
And then I feel my age, as if I were waiting for the sixties to begin again.
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