Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Morristown Documentary Goes Online and Interactive

"Morristown: In The Air and Sun", a documentary on migration of industrial capital and the arrival of immigrant labor in the town of Morristown by award-winner Anne Lewis is now online in a unique multimedia format which makes it very easy to explore. It's called Going South, Coming North: Migration and Union Organizing in Morristown, Tennessee.

First released in 2007, the documentary tracks not just changes in industrial development, but also the often perceptions of local officials and residents in Tennessee, the rugged traveling life of migrant workers and the social impact on all involved. It's a fascinating, on-the-ground perspective which becomes even more amazing as we see the efforts of migrant workers to organize and protect their rights at the workplace.

Created by Lewis and Fran Ansley with the University of Tennessee, this new web page on the Southern Spaces web journal, offers the story of the film in smaller sections of videos and facts, some newly updated, and makes it very easy to navigate and explore the film. I highly recommend you visit the site.

After years of working on Morristown and walking with the movements that it traces, we remain convinced that labor rights and immigrants’ rights are mutually dependent and inextricably intertwined. Campaigns and organizations that integrate both kinds of claims create spaces where workers can learn from each other and identify shared interests.44 However, serious obstacles to building class solidarity across divides of race and nation remain. Exclusionary whiteness runs deep, as does an exclusionary kind of Americanism. Anti-immigrant backlash is alive and well around the United States, and that backlash can be found among working class people and union members as among other segments of the population. But as Morristown documents, there are also working class southerners, both black and white, who can and do respond differently to immigration and to the question of immigrants’ rights, workers who express solidarity and see a basis for common ground. Shirley Reinhardt suggested something like this when she spoke with us before the Koch Foods election about what a victory would mean:

You’re saying to all the others from Mexico, they don’t have to treat you worse than anybody else. You can organize. That’s exactly what you’re saying. Not only are you saying that to the people from Mexico but you’re saying that to the people of Hamblen County, too.

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