Crystal Lee Sutton, originally of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, died of cancer September 12 at the age of 68. She was instrumental in the 10-year fight to unionize the J.P. Stevens mill, where she once worked for $2.65/hr.
You may remember her as “Norma Rae”, as portrayed by actor Sally Field in the Oscar-winning film of 1979.
Crystal moved on from the J.P. Stevens mill after becoming an organizer for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union; she eventually returned to school and graduated from Alamance Community College, who maintains her records of the organizing battle and a website about her life. She was initially denied coverage by her insurance company for treatment for her cancer; her husband worked two jobs to help pay for her medical care. The North Carolina State AFL-CIO is also accepting donations for her medical bills.
“It is not necessary I be remembered as anything, but I would like to be remembered as a woman who deeply cared for the working poor and the poor people of the U.S. and the world.” –Crystal Lee Sutton
Rest in peace, Sister. Lu Lutta Continua.
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