Voices from the Archives: The 1969 UNC Food Workers' Strike (The Gladys Hall Coates University History Lecture)
4:30 p.m. Reception and exhibition viewing, North Carolina Collection Gallery
5:30 p.m. Program, Pleasants Family Assembly Room
On February 23, 1969, after repeated attempts to bring their grievances to the attention of the University administration, food service workers at UNC-Chapel Hill walked out at the beginning of the dinner shift. With the support of the Black Student Movement and other allies, the striking workers highlighted labor and racial inequities on campus. After a month of direct action and negotiation—during which Governor Robert Scott sent the state patrol to campus and mobilized the National Guard in nearby Durham—the strike ended with a wage increase and improved conditions for the food workers. It was one step in the ongoing fight for workers’ rights at UNC.
In this performance directed by Kathy Williams, actors from PlayMakers Repertory Company will tell the story of this key moment in the history of labor and activism at the University. Williams is a faculty member in the department of dramatic art at Carolina and a member of PlayMakers Repertory Company.
The program draws from oral histories, contemporary news accounts and archival documents at the Wilson Special Collections Library. It focuses especially on the perspectives of the workers and student activists who led and participated in the strike.
Prior to the performance, attendees will have the opportunity to visit the exhibition “Service, Not Servitude: The 1969 Food Workers’ Strikes at UNC-Chapel Hill” in Wilson Library's North Carolina Collection Gallery.
This program is the 2019 Gladys Hall Coates University History Lecture, named in memory of Coates, an avid historian of the University. She and her husband, Albert Coates, co-founded UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute of Government (now the School of Government).
It is presented by the North Carolina Collection and the University Archives at the Wilson Special Collections Library in collaboration with PlayMakers Repertory Company, with support from the Office of the Provost through the Performing Arts Special Activities Fund.
To learn more about the Food Workers’ Strike, visit these resources from the University Libraries:
- Research guide from the University Libraries
- “The BSM and the Foodworkers’ Strike,” from the online exhibition “I Raised My Hand to Volunteer”
- Interviews from the Southern Oral History Program collection
Information about the program: firstname.lastname@example.org, (919) 962-4207