After claiming their white supervisor complained about integration, called them "monkeys," and told them the water fountain and microwave at their job were for whites only, two black Tennessee cotton plant employees have filed a federal complaint.
After enduring the torment at Atkinson Cotton Warehouse in Memphis, Tenn., Antonio Harris and Mario Mangrum chose to share their story with WREG in Memphis. Harris recorded the encounters with their former supervisor on his phone so people would actually believe him:
He said after months of racist comments and feeling powerless, he decided to use his phone as a weapon to fight back.
He recorded his attempt to drink water from a water fountain in the warehouse office.
“Hey!” says the supervisor in the recording.
“What?” asked Harris.
“I need to put a sign here that says `white people only.”
Harris also recorded his attempt to use the microwave.
“I am going to use the microwave,” said Harris in the recording.
“Hell no!” said the supervisor.
“Why can’t I use the microwave, man?”
“Because you are not white.”
In the same recording, their supervisor, apparently fond of the days of segregation, recalled happy memories of separate water fountains for blacks and whites:
“Put your sign on the wall then, because I am feeling to drink it,” said Harris. “What would they do when they catch me drinking your water?”
“That`s when we hang you,” said the supervisor.
“I think about this every day, every day of my life,” said Harris.
Both Harris and Mangrum have filed complaints with the EEOC, which is in talks with the warehouse for a possible settlement. Furthermore, while many have issues with the sheer notion of blacks picking cotton in the south given the history behind the image, Harris said the industry isn't the problem.
"I worked for another company for 12 years and they never did something like that to me," the told WREG. The station spoke to another employee at the cotton gin, who said that the supervisor still works there, but is currently on vacation. What's more, the owner told WREG that he outsources management.
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