Been On The Shop Floor Too Long – Black Labor After The 1964 Civil Rights Act


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




In 1967, Harris Parson filed suit against the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation with charges of racial discrimination at the company’s plant in Chalmette, Louisiana. Parson filed suit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibited workplace discrimination. By June of 1984, the Times Picayune reported that Parson successfully sued the Kaiser company in an eighteen-year long struggle. The courts awarded Parson $113,000 in backpay. Other African Americans who were a part of the class action lawsuit received roughly three million dollars in sum. This study uses the nearly two-decade long Parson v. Kaiser case as a microcosm in investigating the development of Title VII in its first twenty-years. By using the Parson case as a thread, the dissertation surveys significant Title VII cases in Louisiana cities and towns such as Bogalusa, Chalmette, Grammercy and Harvey. The dissertation concludes with an analysis of Title VII victories in face of deindustrialization.