Jason Aldean — whose music video “Try That in a Small Town” is an incitement to racist violence — was born in Macon, Georgia. Macon isn’t a small town, but it has a terrible racist history. The Black man Paul Jones was burned alive there by a white mob on Nov. 2, 1919.
The Bibb Mills was the largest textile plant in the city. One of the Civil Rights Movement’s greatest triumphs was getting Black workers hired in Southern textile mills.
When Ezell Blair, Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeill, and David Richmond began their sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Feb. 1, 1960, just 3.3% of textile workers were Black. Eighteen years later, in 1978, African Americans “held a quarter of all production jobs in the Southern textile industry.” (“Hiring the Black Worker, The Racial Integration of the Southern Textile Industry, 1960-1980,” by Timothy J. Minchin)
Excluding African Americans from these factories became as necessary as lynching to the white supremacist terrorist regimes that followed Reconstruction’s bloody overthrow. It was the key to manipulating and brainwashing white workers who were so desperately poor themselves.
Rebel yells and cross-burnings weren’t enough to do this. White sharecroppers and small farmers living in poverty could unite with African Americans in similar conditions.
They did so sometimes during the populist movement that shook the South in the 1880s and 1890s. This was noted by Howard University history professor Rayford W. Logan in his book “The Betrayal of the Negro, from Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson.”
In 1895 North Carolina’s state legislature adjourned for a day upon hearing that Fredrick Douglass died. “Fusionists” — Populists and largely Black Republican voters — kept re-electing George H. White, the last Black member in the U.S. Congress.
But in 1898, Black people were driven out of Wilmington, North Carolina, in a bloody massacre. In 1901 George H. White gave his farewell speech in the House of Representatives, declaring that African Americans would “rise-up some day” like a “Phoenix.”
The Bibb Mills in Macon also refused to hire Black workers. The management there was just admitting class truth when they blurted out that “Negroes are more prone to join unions.” (Minchin)
Bibb used the Klan to crush a union organizing drive at their plants during the CIO’s “Operation Dixie” campaign in 1945 and 1946.
Twenty years later, in 1966, Bibb Mills helped put “Machine Gun” Ronnie Thompson in Macon’s city hall. This mayor got his nickname by handing out submachine guns to local cops.
He used the outline of a Thompson submachine gun in campaign literature and handed out lapel pins in the shape of this weapon. (After all, it was his namesake.)
Police were given “shoot to kill” orders by this racist mayor. In 1968, Thompson even moved a National Guard tank to a playground in a Black community.
The Bibb Mills are now closed. White and Black workers lost their jobs. Macon was devastated by the hundreds of jobs destroyed.
Jason Aldean’s racism doesn’t help any poor and working people. People in small and big towns will support UPS workers if they strike. Workers at Amazon and everywhere else need union wages, benefits, and protection.
Jason Aldean is just a scab.
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