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This is Dan North interviewing Moe Foner on March 9, 2001, tape
Today let's take kind of an impressionistic look back over fifty, sixty
years in the labor movement. I wonder if you could talk about
highlights, things that you remember, incidents, people, impressions,
things that you're proud of, recollections that just come to your mind
at this moment.
Well, one of the things that always stood out in my mind was
meeting a hospital worker at her home in 1959, and she worked at
Knickerbocker Hospital. I had asked if I could--
Knickerbocker in Upper Manhattan?
In Harlem. She lived in Harlem, and I'd asked if I could come to
interview her at home. The first time she said no, and the second time
she said, “Okay, you can come on this night.” I prepared to meet with
her. Now, prior to that, I and my friends and everybody I knew were
anti-racist, but had never really been in direct contact with real
workers, and this was one such realistic moment.
I came to meet with her, and the place was not exactly a penthouse.
The walls were--the paint was peeling, the furniture was sort of
shabby. She had obviously cleaned as best she could, and the kids
were there. Their clothes were not very great, and she was dressed in
simple clothing. I asked her about herself, and she began to tell me
that she made $26 a week, that she was on supplementary welfare,
but she was interested in the union and hoped that the union could
bring better days for her and her family, and that was why she was
walking the picket line outside of Knickerbocker Hospital. We weren't
on strike; it was a demonstration.
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