Archive ID: 2019-064-13

Wiley Canty oral history

Date Created: undated

Donor: Venise Wagner

Media Type: Oral History

Language: English


Oral history interview with Wiley Canty, steelworker at South Works, conducted by Venise Wagner. Wiley Canty was 88 in August 2013 when he gave this interview to Venise Wagner, Professor of Journalism at San Francisco State University. Mr. Canty talks about his years working at US Steel from 1948 to 1984 when he was forced to retire. Racial tensions were common in the mill, which is often reflected in Mr. Canty’s descriptions of people by race. When Mr. Canty started at US Steel, work was divided into production sequences that kept most African Americans in the hottest and dirtiest jobs in the mill. Many of those positions were as laborers and helpers. The myth that African Americans could withstand heat more than people of other races helped justify this practice. It wasn’t until the 1970s when a national consent decree forced the steelworkers union and mills across the country to change promotion and hiring practices that opportunities began to open up. Mr. Canty benefitted from those changes. But racial tensions persisted to some degree.

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Mills   South Works   Steel Industry   1980 - Present (Deindustrialization)   Other/Unknown   African-American   Oral History   2019-064   African American   Audio   Carnegie-Illinois Steel   Histories   Mills   Oral histories   Oral history   South Works   Steel   Steel industry   Steelworkers   U.S. Steel   Workers