Throwback Thursday: African American Lumber Workers

William P. Jones, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, published a book of interest to FPL: The Tribe of Black Ulysses: African American Lumber Workers in the Jim Crow South. Jones spoke to FPL employees recently as part of the GMFAA Black History Month ceremony.

The Tribe of Black Ulysses tells of the labor activism of Black workers in the Southern lumber industry during the first half of the 20th Century. At that time, sawmills and logging camps employed more workers than any other industry in the South, and African Americans comprised a substantial majority of those workers.

The lumber mill in Bogalusa, Louisiana, was the largest mill in the South and a major innovator in the paper industry. The photo below shows managers and workers in front of the mill pond.

lumber workers

The pond in the photo is being drained after the company adopted conservation strategies in the 1930s. The logs shown in the background had sunk over the years, and were taken up and cut into lumber.