Kathy Lamb Interview 3

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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CREW: Its rolling. Quiet. Speak.

JUDITH HELFAND: You said it was like a family not wanting to air dirty laundry. Is the South like that? I mean is the region like that? Does the region need to change? Could talk about Aunt Edna.

KATHY LAMB: People back then were like a family. All the people lived in the same village, what they called a mill village, and they all ate together, their children played together, they went to church together, and when this happened, it was like shame came to all of them, in their eyes. Because I think by the things the company published about the strikers, it was in the paper, and word 1:00of mouth, and this one adding things onto it and everything, it was like something they didn’t want to talk about, they didn’t want anybody to know about. It was like putting it away somewhere where nobody knew anything about it. It was like a deep, dark secret that they didn’t want anybody to know, so nobody would look down on them. But something of that size, it’s hard to hide it. I mean, you can’t hide it when it’s in the newspapers and it publishes names and everything. I don’t think the South will ever change. It’s not really -- it’s handed down. Maybe 100 years from now, maybe. It maybe will grow out of it. It’s changed some; it’s not as bad as it used to be. It’s -- people tend to mind their own business more now. They don’t tend to 2:00look down on people the way they used to.

HELFAND: What’s handed down? Describe that.

LAMB: Everything in the South is handed down. It’s like tradition. It’s like this deal with the citadel. It’s tradition. You don’t change tradition, you don’t change the way you do. If your grandmother did it, you do it. If your mother did it, you do it. Then when you have children you say, “Well, my mother and my grandmother did it, so you do it that way.” It’s passed down, whereas I don’t think other parts -- from what I have seen through my own eyes, I don’t see this everywhere. There’s no -- in the South you don’t see individuality. I’s like, you do what your neighbors do, you do things to keep up appearances. You don’t ever let people know anything bad that happens in your family. You don’t let them know anything bad’s 3:00going on, you don’t let them know you have money troubles, marital problems, children problems, you keep the things inside your house, because you don’t want people to talk about you. And it’s a lot -- it was like that back then and it’s still that way today. The South needs to change, bad. Badly, it needs to change. And I don’t know where to start. There’s a lot of people here, and a lot of things to change. And I think everybody, and myself included, needs to look at the way they look upon other people, other cultures, and the way people live in this area, and I think that -- [sighs] It’s, it’s hard to say. It’s a lot of things. It’s things that are passed down, 4:00it’s things that are acquired from the past, it’s things that need to be changed for the future, if there’s going to be a future. The South, it will never grow until the people in it decide to grow and change. It’ll never change.

HELFAND: We’re talking about handing down information, we’re talking about -- I mean, that’s the thing we’re talking about.

LAMB: Right.

HELFAND: We’re talking about the effect of silence, and what happens when you open it up.

LAMB: After you’ve kept silence for a long time, and then you open it up, everybody feels betrayed. Because they feel like they’ve been lied to, because they’ve not been told the truth. I’ve always felt that no matter how bad the truth is, I’d rather hear that, and I can deal with it. But I can’t deal with a lie. If somebody will go ahead and say, “It’s bad -- let me tell you how bad it is,” I can go on and deal with it, I can cope with 5:00it. And when somebody tells me it’s not that bad or they don’t tell me about it at all, and then later on I find that it’s horrendous, I feel betrayed. I feel they've not told me -- by not telling all the truth, you’re lying to me.

HELFAND: Now, let’s get specific about betrayal. When you found out about Honea Path, can you talk about that -- that sen-- was it -- did you feel betrayed because you’d thought about your ancestors in a certain way and now you found out that you needed to think about them in a different way? I mean --

LAMB: I underst-- when I found out the truth about what happened in Hon-- or that anything happened in Honea Path, I was not aware anything had ever happened. When I found out that something did happen and I wasn’t told about it, I felt like a child that somebody was trying to keep something from. And it 6:00upset me. And I questioned my dad, I said, “Why didn’t you tell me?” “I didn’t want to hurt you.” Well, he hurt me worse by not telling me. It’s like he didn’t trust me with the truth. I mean, I understand he was trying to protect me, he didn’t want me to be afraid, and he thought if the union was coming in here, and he told me that people were killed, that I’d be afraid and I wouldn’t join. Even though he had been a union member all those years, he thought that because of the region I lived in, and what happened eight miles down the road could happen in Belton too. And even though he -- he didn’t really lie, it was like telling a lie. Because he didn’t trust me with the truth. And even though I had joined -- I joined the union, and after I found out, I didn’t try to get out of it, I still feel like that he owed me that to tell me that. I needed to know -- I didn’t need to go to the Anderson 7:00library and found out that my grandfather was the night watchman, and that he saw men with guns in the mill and didn’t do anything about it. I felt like he was a traitor when I read it, but then I thought back, well, the police were involved in it, so who was he supposed to go and tell anything to? They were the ones that were armed. And the mill superintendent and the overseers, they were the ones who were armed. Who was he supposed to go to? He couldn’t call the governor and say, “Hey, these people are fixing to shoot these people in the street.” They’d have told him he was a lunatic and hauled him off to the state mental hospital, because nobody would have believed it. I didn’t believe it when I saw it. So I can’t feel bad at him, and I can’t feel bad at my dad because he was trying to protect me. And he didn’t want me to be hurt. But in the long run, I was hurt by it. I’m over it, I got over it quick, but, you know, as far as -- I don’t know how other people feel. 8:00There’s probably people that are my age in this town now that still don’t know the truth. Because I have talked to my neighbors -- I have a neighbor that lives two houses up, and she said she wouldn’t talk about it. And I doubt her children or her grandchildren knew about it. I doubt very seriously they did, because you can -- I’ve asked people that worked with me, about my age or maybe a little bit younger, did they know any-- “Well, I knew people got killed, but that’s all I know. The union went down there and killed those people.” And when I tell them different, they look at me like I’m crazy. “Oh, no, the union killed those people.” I say, “Go to the library and look it up. You’ll learn a lot.” And I think -- probably since this year would be the 60th anniversary, I think the local newspapers ought to run the truth in there and let everybody know it. It would be nice. But it probably won’t be done, because to them it’s dirty laundry, it’s over and done 9:00with, don’t bring it up. They just don’t want to talk about it. I felt like calling and suggesting it -- there’s new owners to the Belton News, I might call them and suggest it. They have the newspaper for Belton and Honea Path, they served both towns. Why not? She wants to get people to read the newspapers, that’s a big one way to do it. And I might just do that. In the morning.

HELFAND: So if that’s all they know, then what happens -- what is perpetuated in this region? What is perpetuated? If the union is the one that did it, what will happen to those folks? What will happen to their children?

LAMB: If they -- the people believe that the union is the one that did the shooting, when their children go out and go to work and a union tries to come 10:00in, they’re going to say, “Don’t join the union, because they’ll kill you.” I remember when my grandmother told me about them shooting people in Honea Path -- they shot them dead in the street. Shot them in the back. The union shot them. And that’s what they’re going to tell those children. And when the union organizer goes to their front door they’re going to slam that door in their face and tell them to get off their property. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to my brother when he organized. People put shotguns in his face because they were afraid of dying. As far away as Alabama. And it’s ridiculous. It’s like killing the one -- the ones that come to save you, it’s like killing the ones that are standing there with the rope or the parachute or the raft or whatever it is to save you. You’re shooting them and killing them, and taking your last ray of hope and killing it too. All because 11:00you don’t know the truth. You’re living off a misconception, a lie, whatever you want to call it, but you’re not living from the true facts. And until it’s straightened out, people will still keep passing it from one -- passing the wrong information along from one generation to the next. It’s like when kids get together at a birthday party and they tell one thing at one end -- by the time it gets to the other it’s not even near what the first person said. It’s the same thing in this community. You can cut your finger, and by the time it gets to the other end of town, your arm’s missing completely. That’s the way the stories go in here.

HELFAND: Now, it’s not just about union or non-union or which side of the gun you’re on -- I mean, it’s about power and challenging power, isn’t it?

LAMB: Right.

HELFAND: Could you -- if you believe what I just said, could you say -- but in 12:00the end, you know, it’s not about the guns and who shot who -- I mean, as long as we continue to just talk about who shot who, we’re going to be stuck, Kathy. Do you believe that?

LAMB: Yeah, it’s a -- the whole conception of company versus employee is it’s a power struggle between the two. Because the company’s there to make the bigger profits, and the worker wants some of it for them too.

HELFAND: You know, it sounds like you’re talking in very 1990s language, so let’s sort of bring it -- bring it just a little bit -- let’s just bring it back to the Honea Path story in that we’ll talk about, you know, it’s not about who shot who, it’s not just about, you know -- you know what I mean?

(break in audio)


LAMB: To me, the idea of it was, the company didn’t want to give up anything. They didn’t want anybody to have anything. They wanted everything for themselves. And if they -- they wanted all the power. They wanted to govern the people’s lives and everything about them in their lives. And the people wanted some freedom. They didn’t want to be governed by -- we’re supposed to live in a democracy; even back then, we’re supposed to live in a democracy. And you’re supposed to have freedom to do things. And when somebody’s controlling everything about your life and you want to get away from it, they don’t want to let you go. They’re not going to let you go if they can get away with it. If they can work you for nothing, they can put you in a ramshackle house and charge you a week’s salary to live in it and own the store where you buy your groceries and own the church that you go to -- you’re working for them and you’re living for them. You’re not living for yourself. You never will have anything when they control your life. You have to take 14:00control of your life. We’re always going to have to work for somebody else, unless you own your own business, and there’s not many of us that can say we can do that. And you’re always going to have to go in and ask for raises. You’re going to have to stand up for yourself. And so the whole thing is power -- who’s going to have the power over who. And no one person should have power over the other one -- it’s got to be a balance in here somewhere.

HELFAND: So is it -- was this story, in the end, what you have learned -- is it just about which side of the gun you were on, or is it...?

LAMB: The whole thing -- to me, the whole thing could have been solved by compromise, but nobody wanted to compromise. Everybody was going to have -- well, the company wanted everything, and give you a little. And all the people wanted was a little bit more. They didn’t want it all. They understood who they worked for. But no -- but they didn’t want to compromise. They didn’t 15:00want to talk.

HELFAND: I really want you to try to use a couple of my words.


HELFAND: And I don’t [want to?] feel like I’m putting words in your mouth. I think they’re very important words, because it seems like you learned a lot when you found out that the -- (break in audio)

LAMB: -- the whole thing to me.

HELFAND: I mean, just try -- just try to throw some of those -- just try to say, you know, it’s -- what’s wrong?

M1: What is it? Just --

M2: Why don’t you say it?

M1: Yeah, just say it.

M2: Because you’ve been trying for like a half an hour to get her to say it, so you say it.

HELFAND: That it’s dan-- I’m just -- I’ve just -- I think it can’t just be about, in the end --

M1: It’s rolling, wait for speed. OK.

LAMB: To me, the whole thing happened because the company was selfish about the whole thing. I don’t think that -- [sighs] It was a time -- it was after the 16:00Depression, and people were scared of not working again, and I think they didn’t -- they never wanted to be in a position like they were before, having to scrounge for food and everything, and being in the position they were in. And I think they wanted more because they felt if they had more from the company they were working for, they never would be in that position where they couldn’t feed their families again. It was a fear, too. And I think the company didn’t realize that. I don’t think they understood that fear. That’s what I think it was.

HELFAND: Well, I’ll tell -- you know, at the time -- cut for a second. (break in audio)

LAMB: What I noticed in the paper over there, we’re spending more money to produce products, for whatever reason. I think cotton had gone up and whatever. And they didn’t feel like they should give the employees any money. Because 17:00the goods were costing them more to produce. And they didn’t want to lose more money than they had to. That’s where I’m getting it from. A bottom line was money. They wanted the money. They didn’t want to give it to them. And they wanted the power over these people, and they figured if they governed the -- if you governed somebody’s paycheck, you govern their life. Because if they don’t make money, they can’t do anything. And that’s what I think it comes down to -- it’s the money and the power. As long as they kept those people under their thumb and they had to do what they said, where they said, when they said, for how long ever they said, they had it. There’s people -- they couldn’t even move unless that mill told them to. They had to live where they had to -- and then to keep a roof over their head they had to work for the company, or they had nowhere to live. So it all comes -- to me, it all comes down to the fact the company wanted to keep the people where they had them, 18:00under their control, doing what they said do for the amount of money they said they’d pay them, no more, no less.

HELFAND: And if we don’t tell our children that they were trying -- it wasn’t just that the union was coming in, that these people were trying to take some of their power back, right, they were trying to challenge that or question that, then it’s just going to stay --

LAMB: The same. It’ll all stay the same.

HELFAND: Would you say that? That that’s -- that’s where the silence comes from?

M1: It’s really bad. Do you hear that?

M2: What?

M1: There’s some really bad -- (break in audio)

LAMB: I mean, they’re not. If there was a union coming in, they’re not -- and the people themselves had gone in there and asked for the money -- there probably would have still been a riot down there and people would have walked off their jobs if there’d have been a union there or not, because there was a union there, and they just didn’t want to bargain with them. They knew they 19:00were going to have to give up money and power, and they didn’t want to do it.

HELFAND: So this is where I want to say that -- in the end, yes, I found out that the company did it, but it’s not just about, you know, which side of the gun you were on -- that it’s about -- that it was about questioning power and it was about, you know, dignity and respect, and that’s the -- and that -- when we don’t tell them that -- if we only tell our children about the violence, if we tell them anything -- you know, if we don’t tell our children this part of the story, we run the risk of -- that’s what I mean. That it’s not just about telling your kids, you know, “Don’t do that because people got killed down there.”

LAMB: Mm-hmm. Yeah, my brain organ is getting tired. Are we ready?

M2: Yup.

LAMB: OK. When everything about Honea Path is said and done, when all -- no 20:00matter who did what to who, who shot who, who didn’t shoot who, or -- the whole thing comes down to a power struggle between employees and a company and the money involved, and the company not wanting to give up the power and the money that they had. And if people don’t understand that the reason for this -- all the reasoning behind it, things will never change. It’s not whether a union was there or not, it’s about power struggles and companies taking over people in their lives, and people have to learn to stand up for what they believe in, whether there’s a union there or not. You have to go in there and stand up for what you believe in and what you need and the dignity and respect you deserve.

HELFAND: And what about the silence? If we only talk about the guns, what will that do?

LAMB: If you only talk about violence, that’s all they’re going to hear. If 21:00they don’t see the reasoning behind the violence and why the violence occurred, nothing will ever change. They have to know why that happened so it doesn’t happen again, and it’s done the right way from there on, or nothing ever changes. If people think every time they go in and ask for a raise somebody’s going to shoot them, they’ll never go in and ask for one. If they think that every time they want to go to a company for something -- a raise, more vacation time, better benefits or whatever -- that the company’s going to kill them, or they stand that chance of it, they’ll never ask for anything. And companies will always rule and govern everybody, because if they govern your paycheck, they govern your life. They govern your benefits, they govern your retirement. From the day you go to work until the day they put you in the ground, they will govern your life. And it shouldn’t be that way. It doesn’t need to be that way, and it can be changed if you only tell the truth and don’t hide anything -- no matter how bad it is or how bad you think it is, 22:00go ahead and tell the truth. Because the truth never hurt anybody. The lies are what do the damage.

HELFAND: Robert, what was it you wanted to ask Kathy that you were talking about recently?

LAMB: Just what we was talking about just now, about people being scared to join the union.

ROBERT: Yeah. I said -- Kathy and I were talking the other -- (break in audio)

LAMB: You mean I had to listen to him?

ROBERT: I used to work for Springs, I know.

M1: Whenever you’re ready.

LAMB: The people in Honea Path now -- you couldn’t get a union in there now if you wanted to. If you begged, pleaded, whatever, because they’re scared, and they always will be scared. Always. Yes, always. As long as you got a grandmother down there that’s going to tell a daughter that’s going to tell a granddaughter and on down the line, until this newspaper in this town and the 23:00one in Anderson puts it in there that hey, these people don’t have to be ashamed -- tell the truth about what happened! -- it’s never going to change. Somebody has to initiate the change. Somebody, and one person can’t do it -- you got to have a mass thing -- to reach a mass amount of people you got to have mass media to do it. You can’t do it off of one person. I can go down to Honea Path and say, “Hey, that’s not the way it happened,” and they’re going to look at me like I’m completely out of my mind. “Oh, I know my grandfather told me so-and-so. He wouldn’t lie to me.” That’s what the whole thing’s about, a lie. People are believing a lie. And I don’t -- if it’s not put in black and white they never will believe it that it was a lie. 24:00People down here say, “My relatives won’t lie to me.” Well, honey, I’m here to tell you, your relatives will lie to you before your best friend would. Especially if it’s something that’s going to make them look good. That’s the way it’s always been, as long as I’ve lived in the South. And people will always be scared until something’s done. Till something’s put in the media that they can see or they can read to make them change their minds. Because they’re living a lie. That’s what the whole thing’s about in Honea Path. People are afraid. You say the word “union,” they don’t want to talk to you whatsoever. And you try to explain it to them -- I said “I don’t want to talk to you,” they’ll slam the door in your face, they’ll put a shotgun in your face. When we were trying to organize our plant, we went to this woman’s house and her husband came to that door and said, “You see that damn road out there? You get in it and don’t you come back. If you do 25:00I’m gonna blow your brains out.” Now, you tell me that’s not from fear. We hadn’t done anything to that man. I’ve known that man for 16 years, spoke to him every time I saw him, but when I was a union organizer, going trying to get his wife to join the union at my plant, I was a dead woman in his eyes. That’s fear. That’s not shame, because his family wasn’t (inaudible) -- that’s fear. And it’s -- and he’s younger than my father, so it had to be his dad or his granddad, one, who told him what happened down there. And that didn’t happen just one place. That’s happened all over the South. My brother was an organizer and he went to a man’s house and he threw a double-barreled shotgun in his face, told him he had five seconds to get in that car or he was a dead man. He didn’t want to hear about a damn union. Unions killed people. That’s not just in Honea Path. Word spread -- this just didn’t happen in Honea Path, it happened in Gastonia, in North Carolina 26:00and all around the South, and up in the Northeast, everywhere. It was a nationwide deal. People were walking out and getting killed everywhere. It’s in the papers. We pulled it up in the papers today -- people were being shot in -- a preacher was shooting at people. Now, that’s a man of God, is supposed to respect life. And he was out shooting picketers. It did crazy things to people. When you take the National Guard, there’s 200 people in the street, and they think they gotta bring machine guns? I mean, my God, these people weren’t even armed. You don’t have to bring machine guns to combat people in the street that aren’t even armed. If they’d have had tanks, they would have probably run over them. But it’s ridiculous. It’s like somebody with a gun going after somebody with a toothpick in their hand. There’s no threat 27:00there. And the fear goes on and on and on, and it always will until people’s minds are changed and the truth’s told.

HELFAND: But your mind has been changed.

LAMB: Because I took the gumption enough to go to the library, get the microfilm and sit there for 10 hours and go through it. But these people won’t sit down 15 minutes to read a newspaper hardly around here. If Aunt Gladys doesn’t call them on the phone and tell them what so-and-so’s doing, or did you hear about somebody getting run over or killed, they don’t know. You said, “Did you read so-and-so in the paper?” “I don’t take the paper. I don’t need to take the paper, I hear -- I talked to so-and-so, I know what’s going on.” People around here just do not take the time. They know -- I don’t (inaudible) if they’re afraid to find out what the truth is or they’re too lazy to go look it up, or they don’t care. I don’t know what it is.


HELFAND: Well, does the truth -- I mean, and how does this all affect -- how does this silence and this lack of knowledge about the past affect the economy, affect the way people think about themselves?

LAMB: The whole thing -- well, the economy in South Carolina’s terrible. We’re some of the lowest-paid people in the United States. That’s the reason BMW’s coming here, because Carol Campbell promised them the union wouldn’t be here. And everybody knows that -- it’s more common knowledge than anything -- that usually union workers get paid more than people without unions. There is strength in collective bargaining, whereas it’s not if you walk in yourself and ask for a raise and he says, “Well, I don’t have to pay Susan over here any more, why should I pay you?” Where if you’ve got one person going in on behalf of a group of people, 100, 150 employees, and say “This is what we want and this is what we need” and work out a compromise...


HELFAND: Kathy, what could being open and letting history in all its complexities, like you’re saying, you know -- what could this mean to the South? Because I have faith.

LAMB: You got more than I do. You don’t live with these people in this town. They are as backward as backward can be. I love them, but they’re backward. They don’t take to anything new, they don’t want to know anything new, they didn’t even want to build a new Winn-Dixie in town because somebody’s swimming pool might have to get dug up. That’s how -- it was going to create 200 jobs in this town, and we had 15 people go up there and say, “We don’t want to live next to a grocery store.” Now, you tell me that’s progress and hoping -- and these are people with money and educations. They should say, “Yeah, we need new industry, here these people are out of work, they need jobs.” No, they think about their swimming pool and their deck on their back 30:00porch and who’s going to see what’s in their backyard. They don’t want progress around here.

HELFAND: What does -- I’m going to switch the subject, but keep your energy. What does the knowledge about this -- and it’s not just about the violence, it’s about -- and it’s not just about unions, it’s about standing up. What does that mean about your ancestors and the South, in a sense, and even about yourself?

LAMB: What I know now, what it tells me about my ancestors? (pause) I think knowing what happened in Honea Path and everything that resulted from whatever happened -- with my relatives, it tells me that they lived in a lot of fear, and there were some that would stand up, some that wouldn’t, just like there are now. And... (sigh) As far as what happens in the future, as a way to fix that, 31:00I -- (sigh) Had more stood up and done -- if they hadn’t quit when they did, after all the violence, it just stopped. It was like, you know, the company’s going to get everything. (break in audio)

HELFAND: -- you said --

LAMB: I don’t know.

HELFAND: That’s OK. But I don’t -- you really -- you --

M1: Tape is rolling.

LAMB: (sigh) Wonderful.

HELFAND: Imagine that the region can take on your attitudes, now that you know about the past.

LAMB: If the region took on the attitude that I have now, there could be changes made. I’d like to be a part of making changes in this area. But you gotta get people’s attention first and make them want to listen, and open their eyes 32:00and say, here it is. This is what happened. We need to go on and learn from this and go on with the future and make it better. Don’t look back at what happened a long time ago. They can’t do anything about it. What’s done is done. It’s bad, it shouldn’t have happened, but you can’t change it. You can only learn from that experience and go forward and make it better for everybody else in the future.

HELFAND: But the way people have been learning about it is to say, this is where there was violence, the union did it, and therefore I’m never going to try to do anything.

LAMB: That’s right. That’s what they’re going off of. That’s what I’m saying, you have to -- if you could take them and chain them in a chair and say, “Here, this is what happened, and read it -- this is from the Anderson Independent, this is what happened, face it --”

HELFAND: But people don’t believe newspapers. They believe their mama and their daddy.


LAMB: That’s what I’m trying to tell you. If Aunt Mabel said it, it’s so. If it come from the Associated Press, they’re crazy. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I mean, let’s face it, you see how somebody’s life can be ruined by the media -- look at O.J. Simpson. I mean, his life’s in a shambles. We don’t know if he did it or if he didn’t do it. I don’t think he knows anymore.

HELFAND: So then it’s -- this does somehow reside in the family. It does reside in the telling.

LAMB: Yes.

HELFAND: And it’s not just about the newspapers.

LAMB: Yeah, that’s right. It’s in the handing down from one generation to the other stories about the family, what happened, and all that. It’s -- you might have a family that had a Civil War hero in their eyes, and come to find out he was in the brig half the time. It’s whatever they want to make it sound good. It’s putting up appearances, like I said before -- it’s putting up appearances. You know, they -- the people that are ashamed don’t want to talk about it. And probably -- I’ve not run across anybody that’s admitted 34:00to their ancestors shooting anybody, but if you asked them about it and they were the right type, they’d probably say, “Yeah, he shot him. He would have shot more if they’d have stood still long enough.” That’s the way they are. There are things that they want known, they’ll run it everywhere, if that’s what they -- if it looks good to them and it’s going to look good to everybody else, they’ll tell everybody. But if they don’t want to tell it, they won’t.

HELFAND: And what happened at that [Act Two?] conference? And you don’t -- and you can sort of talk about it in terms of there are some people, even in the union, who don’t want to talk about this because they think it makes -- I mean, that -- why bring this history up?

LAMB: Well, at the Act Two conference in Las Vegas, they showed film clips of this documentary. And they wanted opinions. There were some younger ones in 35:00their twenties that wanted -- didn’t want anything told. They said that it was depressing, nobody’d ever join the union if they found it out, why bring up something depressing, and when we were told they were going to use it as an organizing film, they said, “Oh, nobody’ll ever join. Forget it.” They didn’t see the part that people had died for them. Those people died trying to get something better. They didn’t see that part. They decided something depressing that nobody should talk about. So they should just hide away and forget about it and go on. And they don’t understand what -- how unions started or what people had to go through to get what they took for granted today.

HELFAND: But I -- I’ll tell you --

M1: Tape is rolling, wait for speed. Speed.

HELFAND: You know, I think sometimes the union is as scared about talking about 36:00this past as the people are. What do you think about that?

LAMB: I don’t think they’re really scared about it. They’re afraid of scaring people about it.

HELFAND: You’ve got to say “the union.” You’ve got to say --


HELFAND: -- even -- and just sort of put this in some sort of context for me.

LAMB: Oh. I don’t think the union’s afraid to talk about the strike. I think they’re not ashamed of what happened. I think they’re afraid of what people may think. They may get the wrong idea about things. And that’s the way they look at it. It’s not that they’re ashamed of it or don’t want to talk about it or are afraid to talk about it.

HELFAND: Is there anything else that you want to --

LAMB: Mm-mmm. I’m talked out.

HELFAND: OK. Then we’re done.

LAMB: Thank -- oh, thank you.

(break in audio)


M1: Room tone. (pause) [dog barking in background] End dog tone.

HELFAND: -- women and men, and if this is made a difference in your life, could you see it making a difference in their lives.

LAMB: Seeing this? Would it make a difference?

HELFAND: Knowing this history, knowing that there’s a legacy of resistance.

LAMB: I think if they -- if people knew it, they -- it would make a difference. 38:00If you could get them to believe it, let’s put it that way. If you could get them to believe it.

HELFAND: Could you say -- could you actually say, “I’m no different than most other Southern people, I grew up like they did,” something to that effect, “and I know that when I heard that my people tried to make changes, it did -- it had an impact on me and I know it could make a difference to them,” or something.


M2: And can you put the paper away?

HELFAND: But you’d need to refer to -- in this case, it’s about resistance. It’s not just about the violence and the strike.

LAMB: Are we ready?

CREW: Yup.

LAMB: I think that if people knew about the struggles and resistance that was -- that my ancestors and relatives made -- encountered, I think if they knew about it, they would maybe understand things a little bit better. After being raised in the South, I had the same values, I was brought up the same way they were, 39:00and if I can change, they can too. If they know the truth. And I think that’s the basic thing. I mean, it made an impact on my life, knowing that somebody stood up for me, and I think if they knew that their ancestors stood up for them too, it would make a difference in their life.

HELFAND: OK. I just -- I want you to say the same thing -- I want you to just say it a little slower and with a little bit of conviction. Believe it. I mean, because this is about faith. Before you were saying you didn’t have faith in the South, but if you have faith in yourself and you are Southern and you’re like them, then “I know that the South can change too --“

LAMB: I’m somewhat like them. I don’t claim two-thirds of them. I’d love to bash their heads in. I’d like to get violent with them sometimes. Because I’m going to tell you, some of these people in this town are just flat-out durn ignorant. You cannot -- I mean, you’d have to take a ball bat to get their attention to even get them to listen to you. They’re ignorant as my 40:00left foot. And they will not listen to you. And if you set them down -- if you could bring a ghost from the past back that saw everything and told them, they’d say, “I don’t believe it.” They’re just that way. But if they had -- if they knew the truth and knew people stood up for them, and I can change, they can change. If they’ll put effort for it. You can’t just change overnight. I didn’t change overnight. I had to look at things and sit down and figure it out for myself. Nobody came in here with a book and said, “Here, read this.” I had to want to go look and want to believe, and I had to put faith in my dad and my grandfather stood up. My dad was a union member for 25 years. He went out on strikes. He stood up. And my grandfather worked in that mill, even though he wasn’t considered a union worker or a non-union 41:00worker, he was just a night watchman there. But somebody has to realize that their ancestors stood up so they’d have a better life, and they’ve got to realize that there’s no shame in it, there’s -- no matter what they believe or what concept they have, they need to sit and listen to somebody and listen to the logic and listen to the facts of what happened, so they can put it behind them and try to look forward and change and make the South and whatever region they’re from, if they have these ideas, make them change. Because if you live in the past and you go off and you don’t try to change, nothing ever changes. People have to change to make your environment change. If you stay stuck in one place, the environment stays stuck in one place -- the place you live in. If 42:00you never change your surroundings or the way you think or the way you live, you’ll be the same way from the time you’re born to the day you die. Life is about change and understanding. And people that live their life and never change, they’re in a sad situation. I feel for them.

HELFAND: So is it time for families to talk?

LAMB: Time’s long overdue for families to talk about this. Time’s overdue for the area media to get involved in this and bring out the true facts of it. It shouldn’t be hidden away. There’s nothing that should be hidden away about it. And -- (sigh) Things have been hidden for too long. If it hurts somebody, I mean, I’m sorry, but people were killed. I mean, somebody’s 43:00feelings gets hurt because Uncle So-and-So shot somebody and it’s going to come out in the paper, I’m sorry, but that’s the way it has to be. It’s not fair for the men that died and the people that were shot and wounded down there, it’s not fair for people to think they were criminals. I mean, they’ve been -- people have been killed and people have been hurt and damaged for their whole lives. I mean, that’s what’s going to have to change. You can’t make heroes out of people that murder people. And by them getting off without anything happening to them, it made it look like it was OK to do that. Today when something -- when you know somebody’s guilty of a crime and they get off with it, it gives the message to the rest of society it’s fine. Go ahead and do it, you’ll get off. And this is 60 years of this. It’s not a year or two, five years -- it’s 60 years. Most of these people are dead and buried, but they have relatives that live on. And the pain’s been passed to 44:00them, and their children and their children’s children. And it’s time. It’s long been overdue. It’s time.

HELFAND: It’s not so odd that people get off with murder -- people have always gotten off with murder. What’s odd is that the community just sat by and said, “OK, I’m (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --“

LAMB: Well, people don’t go in there and kill -- well, they said they had 11 of them brought up on murder charges, but none of them were ever convicted, because all of them were scared of the man that was the ringleader, because he told them if they went and testified against him, they’d kill him. They’d kill every one of them. It’s like somebody putting out a contract on you -- if you open your mouth, you’re dead. And everybody was so afraid of that one man, so they wouldn’t tell anything. That’s the way it got off, through intimidation from a man. And the company supported that man. The law 45:00enforcement supported that man. To me this whole thing was an undercover job or an inside job, where the company and the law enforcement got together and said, “OK, we’ll just go up there and shoot them in the streets. We’ll teach them who’s boss. Put them in their place. We don’t have to fool with this. We’re not going to.” And that’s what they did. And they said, “Well, anybody tries to testify against us, we’ll just tell them we’ll waste them too.” And so, I mean, if you are a woman or a man and you have a family to raise, and you see somebody get killed and you know that if you tell it you’re going to get killed and leave those poor children there by theirselves, are you going to open your mouth? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t. I don’t feel hard at them for not saying anything. They had a family to protect. I mean, if the law’s involved, who are you going to go to? The law is supposed to be the 46:00good guy. They’re not supposed to be the bad guy. I mean, they were just -- they were stuck. They didn’t have anything else, anybody to turn to. They had the National Guard, they had the sheriff’s department, the police department in Honea Path, they had deputies, the governor was in on it -- everybody was in on it. Yeah, we’ll just go up there and shoot them. We’ll show the rest of them, it’ll scare the hell out of the rest of them, they’ll go back to work. And that’s about what happened. Slowly and surely they all went back to work. It was either that or starve or get shot too. Or they moved away. And I have read that some of them even went tenant farming. And there’s no harder work in this world is working on a tenant farm, or migrant workers.

HELFAND: So are you testifying for everybody that couldn’t testify?


LAMB: Yeah, might as well. I might as well -- might as well say it for the ones that -- everybody that couldn’t testify and go in there and tell it. I read it in the newspapers. And it’s clear as a bell to me what happened. Those people are dead and gone, most of them. Or they’re scared even today to talk about it, so if nobody else is going to say it, I’ll say it. It was wrong, it was underhanded, it was the most despicable thing I’ve ever seen. They talk about law enforcement being crooked today -- honey, you ain’t seen crooked till you see that.

HELFAND: So that song, “Sweet Bye and Bye,” in the end -- what was that last refrain?

LAMB: “And we’ll meet on that beautiful shore.”

HELFAND: Could you recite those lines for me?

LAMB: Lord have mercy.

HELFAND: Just the (inaudible).

LAMB: Um -- “In the sweet bye and bye...” hmm, let’s see...


HELFAND: Start with the beginning (inaudible).

LAMB: OK. “In the sweet bye and bye, in the sweet bye and -- we shall meet on the beautiful shore. In the sweet bye and bye, in the sweet bye and bye, we shall meet on the beautiful shore.” I guess the one -- the ones that died in the street probably will meet, but the ones that killed them won’t. Maybe I shouldn’t judge, but murder’s one thing that’s not forgiven.

HELFAND: Do you think you meet them when you talk about their story?

LAMB: Yeah.

HELFAND: Could you recite those lines and say that? [We’ll be all time?].

M2: (inaudible) your face? I’m sorry.

LAMB: Do what?

M2: [Get back?].

LAMB: (sigh) I’m drooling, huh?

HELFAND: (laughter) No.

LAMB: I feel like I’m drooling and dying all at the same time.

HELFAND: Well, then it’s good to say ahead --

CREW: Just on your left cheek (inaudible).

LAMB: I have dyslexia sometimes. (laughter) OK.

HELFAND: OK. Can you (inaudible) for us?


LAMB: OK, now where were we at?

HELFAND: Just recite it slowly, those two lines, and then just tell me, if you’re talking about them and thinking about them and learning about them, is meeting them, and that’s a good thing?

LAMB: Well, the hymn goes, “In the sweet bye and bye, in the sweet bye and bye, we will meet on the beautiful shore. In the sweet bye and bye, in the sweet bye and bye, we will meet on the beautiful shore.” By saying that, I think that I have a oneness with those people. You know, they’re -- even though I didn’t know them, I think I do know them by reading about them, and how they suffered, and talking about them. And it seems like I know them, even though I wouldn’t know them if I saw a picture of them, I wouldn’t know them, but in my heart I know them. I know how I can feel -- I can’t say 50:00exactly that I know how they were, but I can picture it, and I can feel it through what I’m reading in the papers, and understanding what they’ve gone through and what my dad and my granddad have told me. My dad saw people drop dead at his feet -- he was eight years old. I think that’s one reason he couldn’t talk to me. That’s horrible for an eight-year-old, to see people drop dead at your feet. And see them shoot people in the back of the head while they were crawling away from him. That’s probably -- that’s -- he used to talk to me about the war, and World War II, and he would tell me things about that, but he never said about that -- I guess this was more traumatic to him than even going to war. It lasted with him his whole life and it still lasts with him today. He still cries about it when he talks about it, because it upset him so bad and had such an impact on his life.


HELFAND: Thanks.

LAMB: We’re done?


LAMB: Get this thing off of me and turn the air on. I’m about to die(laughter)