Exploring the High Cost of “Cheap:” The Hamlet, NC Factory Fire of 1991 | Tues. Oct. 20, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
Featuring scholars David Zonderman, Joanna Sierks Smith and Howard Craft (author of the play Orange Light)
While the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire is known as one of the most infamous incidents in American industrial history, less attention has been paid to the September 3, 1991 fire that swept through an Imperial Foods chicken processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina - in which 25 of the 81 working died, and twice as many were injured. The plant had no working sprinklers or alarms, and the emergency exits were locked from the outside, resulting in an avoidable tragedy. In this session, scholars David Zonderman and Joanna Sierks Smith will use this recent event in North Carolina history to discuss how deregulation, the demand for inexpensive labor and goods (in the meat packing industry and beyond), and cultures of silence and intimidation in low-wage employment depreciate workers’ lives in prioritization of the notion of “cheap.” We will also be joined by playwright Howard Craft, author of the acclaimed play Orange Light, which poignantly focuses on the human stories involved in and impacted by the Hamlet, NC plant fire, as well the working conditions experienced beforehand - reminding us as teachers of the importance of empathy and humanization in recounting “hard” history and current events. An event that every North Carolina history teacher and individual consumer should know about, Carolina K-12 will also provide an accompanying lesson plan and resources for covering these topics and themes in the middle and high school classroom.
***Registrants are encouraged to view the 8 minute news story about the fire prior to Oct. 20th participation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wdFgzWrN9A***
William Friday Virtual Education Series: Carolina Voices”, provided by Carolina K-12 in collaboration with and support from the North Caroliniana Society.