Collection Number: 05625

Collection Title: Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.


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Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 185 items)
Abstract The Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018, document labor organizing, a sanitation workers strike, community building, civil rights struggles, and Martin Luther King Day celebrations in Nash and Edgecombe Counties, N.C. Organizations include the People's Coalition for Justice, the Consolidated Diesel Company Workers Unity Committee, the Carolina Auto, Aerospace & Machine Workers Union--UE 150, the Phoenix Historical Society, Inc., and the Bloomer Hill Community Center in Whitakers, N.C. Materials include newsletters, video recordings, speeches, writings, and digitized scrapbooks of photographs, clippings, and news releases.
Creator Wrenn, Jim (James)
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Jim Wrenn Papers #05625, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Jim Wrenn in May 2015 (Acc. 102225), December 2018 (Acc. 103506), and February 2019( Acc. 103548).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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Jim (James) Wrenn is a labor organizer based in Nash and Edgecombe Counties, N.C.

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The Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018, document the People's Coalition for Justice, which formed in reaction to the murder of African American man by a white service station owner in Whitakers, N.C.; a sanitation workers strike in 1978 in Rocky Mount, N.C.; community building and civil rights struggles in Nash and Edgecombe Counties; Martin Luther King Day celebrations, 1991-2010, at Bloomer Hill Community Center; labor organizing by the Consolidated Diesel Company Workers Unity Committee and the Carolina Auto, Aerospace & Machine Workers Union--UE 150; the Community Empowerment Alliance; and African American and labor history of Edgecombe County, N.C. Materials include newsletters, video recordings, speeches, writings, and digitized scrapbooks of photographs, clippings, and news releases.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018).

160 items.

Acquisitions Information: Accessions 102225, 103506

Digital Folder DF-05625/1

People's Coalition for Justice scrapbooks #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." DF-05625/1

DVD with scanned images of three scrapbooks. Original scrapbooks are in private hands, believed to be preserved at the Bloomer Hill Community Center in Whitakers, N.C.

The three digitized scrapbooks contain photographs, clippings, news releases, and other documents relating to the case of Charlie Lee, an African American man who was shot and killed on 19 April 1977 by Joe Judge, a white service station owner in Whitakers, N.C. Lee was shot by Judge during an incident in the service station where Lee felt he had been short-changed by Judge and demanded that he get his correct change back. Lee died two days later. Following Lee's death, the community organized as the People's Coalition for Justice (PCJ) and held numerous mass meetings, demonstrations, rallies, and a boycott. The Coalition also held their own mock trial of Judge, a "People's Trial" held on 17 September 1977, at the Bloomer Hill Community Center. The judge in the mock proceedings was Tyrone Alston, a Whitakers insurance salesman; the prosecuting attorney was Nelson Johnson of Greensboro, a member of the African Liberation Support Committee and the Workers Viewpoint Organization; and the defense attorney was Joyce Johnson, a community organizer from Greensboro, and Nelson Johnson's wife. Soon after, Judge was tried by the State of North Carolina for second degree murder. His trial was held at the Nash County Courthouse in Nashville, N.C. He was acquitted of the murder charge. The scanned scrapbooks contain documentation of the community's effort to mobilize support and photographs and other documents covering the "People's Trial."

Box 1

Rocky Mount sanitation strike #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

Papers relating to the suspension of sanitation worker Alexander Evans and the subsequent 1978 strike by city sanitation workers in Rocky Mount, N.C. Includes copy of paper, "A Question of Ownership: The Sanitation Workers Strike of 1978 and Ideological Divisions in Rocky Mount, North Carolina’s African American Freedom Struggle," by Lisa Gayle Hazirjian.

Also includes a program from a October 2018 event held on to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1978 Rocky Mount sanitation workers strike, and other related materials

See also Southern Oral History Program interview #U-0464 with Alexander Evans and interview #U-0465 with Leonard Giles.

Background information on Bloomer Hill community #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

Includes an article, "Determined to Build a Community," by Ann Morris on Bloomer Hill (Southern Exposure, 1984) and a copy of "The Road to Self-Determination: Bloomer Hill, North Carolina," by Troy Fiesinger (a senior thesis, Duke University, 1991).

Martin Luther King Day celebrations at Bloomer Hill Community Center #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

In January 1990, workers at the Consolidated Diesel Company plant in Whitakers petitioned the company for a paid holiday for Martin Luther King Day. After eight months of negotiations, the company agreed. In 1991, labor organizers joined with leaders of the local African American community to host the first Martin Luther King Day Celebration at the nearby Bloomer Hill Community Center. This folder contains programs and other materials relating to Martin Luther King Day Celebrations, 1991-2010.

Unity News, 1992-2012 #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

A labor union newsletter published by the CDC Workers Unity Committee, Whitakers, N.C. The newsletter is distributed on the "shop floor" at the Cummins diesel engine plant in Rocky Mount, N.C.

Unity News special bulletins #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

Community News, 1997-1998 #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

A newsletter published by the Community Empowerment Alliance.

Lawsuit filed by CDC Workers Unity Committee #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

Writings and speeches of Jim Wrenn #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

A copy of a speech given by Wrenn at the 2010 MLK Day celebration at the Bloomer Hill Community Center in Whitakers, NC. In 1990 the union successfully petitioned the plant for a paid Martin Luther King holiday. The original deposit contains recordings and other materials related to this effort and from some of the MLK Day celebrations over the years.

Articles about CAAMWU #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

Contains copies of legal proceedings and articles relating to a lawsuit filed by the CDC Workers Unity Committee and the National Labor Relations Board against the Consolidated Diesel Company, which alleged that the company blocked the labor union from distributing union literature at the manufacturing plant and harassed union leaders. The labor union won the case, which was also later upheld by the Fourth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.

"This is the Value of Our Labor: The Non-majority Union Approach in U.S. Manufacturing," 2012 #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

Essie Ablavsky thesis on CAAMWU.

Background materials on labor organizing #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

Phoenix Historical Society publications #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." Box 1

Includes three publications relating to historical events relating to labor organizing in Edgecombe County, N.C.

Videotape VT-05625/1

Martin Luther King Day, 21 January 2002 #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." VT-05625/1

Sponsored by the CDC Workers Committee at the Bloomer Hill Community Center in Whitakers, N.C.

Digital Folder DF-05625/2

Bloomer Hill Community Center: Martin Luther King Day, 2005 #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." DF-05625/2

Video recording
Digital Folder DF-05625/3

Bloomer Hill Community Center: Martin Luther King Day, 2009 #05625, Series: "Jim Wrenn Papers, 1977-2018 (Original Deposits of 2015 and 2018)." DF-05625/3

Video recording
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1A. Papers, 2004-2017.

25 items.
Box 2

Papers, 2004-2017 #05625, Series: "1A. Papers, 2004-2017." Box 2

Materials include Unity News, 2004-2007, and research reports, programs, and flyers, 2012-2017, for events recognizing African American and labor history in Edgecombe County, N.C., that were created by the Phoenix Historical Society, Inc. and Knights of Labor.

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Processing Information

This summary description was created in November 2017 to provide information about unprocessed materials in Wilson Special Collections Library.

Encoded by: Laura Smith

Revisions by: Biff Hollingsworth and Nancy Kaiser, January and March 2019

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