Southeastern Channel looks at union busting in the Florida Parishes
Contact: Christina Chapple
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NEW ‘CHRONICLES’ EPISODE – “Florida Parish Chronicles” host Sam Hyde interviews labor expert and Southeastern History Professor Al Dranguet at the entrance to the current Bogalusa lumber mill as part of a new “Florida Parishes Chronicles” episode about the Bogalusa lumber industry in 1919, the impact of labor disputes, and how race relations transcended the conflict. The program will debut at 7 pm. Wednesday on the Southeastern Channel.
HAMMOND – Many are aware that the city of Bogalusa in Washington Parish has its roots in the timber industry boom at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, by 1915 Bogalusa was known as the "Magic City" for having appeared almost overnight to boast the largest lumber mill in the world."
But the emergence of labor disputes and union battles temporarily crippled the lumber industry there in 1919, and a single act of violence in November that year brought black and white citizens together in a struggle that pitted class over race.
These key events in the history of Bogalusa and rural Washington Parish are described in the latest episode of the Emmy-nominated series, “The Florida Parish Chronicles,” which debuts on the Southeastern Channel on May 27, 7 p.m.
“Class Over Race: Union Busting in Southeastern Louisiana” will also air Friday, May 29, at 7 a.m. and Sunday, May 31, at 7:30 a.m. on the university’s educational cable access channel on Charter Cable Channel 18. The show will continue to air on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. throughout June, said channel General Manager Rick Settoon.
“This episode of ‘Chronicles’ brings to life an exciting era of north shore history where the creation of Bogalusa as a mill town with a close-knit, family atmosphere and its sudden, dramatic growth to a bustling city of 16,000 made it one of the most attractive places to work in the South,” Settoon said.
“On the flip side, it shows how even rural Louisiana wasn’t immune to the union labor disputes that ripped cities in the North at that time,” he said. “And of course, the violent labor event which brought whites and blacks together in this region was unprecedented.”
The critical event was the Nov. 22, 1919 murder of four white laborers who gave their lives to protect Sol Dacus, a black member of Timber Workers Local who organized the African-American labor force.
“This episode reveals that race relations in the Deep South were not always as dire as typically depicted,” said the show’s host, Southeastern history professor Sam Hyde, Ford Chair for Regional Studies and director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies. “It is a story of four white men giving up their lives to protect one black man. Even more, it is a story of Louisianians coming together in a unity of purpose seldom seen in other regions with dramatic and devastating consequences.”
Hyde wrote the documentary narrative which describes how the Goodyear brothers of New York fashioned the dynamic industrialization of rural Washington Parish. Through vintage photographs and dramatic reenactments, the narrative also captures the origins and inner workings of labor unions in the region.
At the entrance to the current Bogalusa lumber mill, Hyde interviews Al Dranguet, a Southeastern history professor and a 40-year officer in the AFL-CIO local. Dranguet offers perspectives on the Bogalusa strike and other area labor disputes of that time in addition to looking at the current status of union organization in the South.
Southeastern Channel staff member Josh Kapusinski edited the program while channel operations manager Steve Zaffuto produced and directed the reenactments. Staffer Jamie Bass and student Nick Elliott assisted Kapusinski in shooting the interview.
The Southeastern Channel has won more than 100 national and international awards during its six-year existence. It can be seen on Charter Cable Channel 18 in Tangipahoa, Livingston and St. Tammany parishes, Channel 17 in Washington Parish and online at www.selu.edu/tv.