Back to Top

Tobacco Workers Strike

Annabelle Heckler


Tobacco Workers Strike for Wages and Freedom

Winston Salem, North Carolina, June 1943:
10,000 workers turned their backs to the machines at RJ Reynolds, the largest factory in the South. Workers won the strike and built a union; Food Tobacco and Agricultural Workers (FTA) CIO Local 22. Their civil rights union dreamed beyond workplace demands and inspired workers across the South.

"We'll organize, get together, negotiate a better way of life." —Chick Black

Striker Moranda Smith went on to become the first Black woman elected to the U.S. national union leadership, in 1947. She called for "not words, but action,""to walk the picket lines unafraid." She was "close" to another union leader. This is a queer love song, too.

For Moranda Smith, Theodosia Simpson, Viola Brown, Velma Hopkins, Ruby Jones, Chick Black, and more.

This CPH poster printed at the worker-owned and union-run Community Printers, Santa Cruz, CA.

This is #184 in the Celebrate People’s History Poster Series.