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Tenn. cotton gin boss caught on tape: We ‘hang’ blacks for drinking ‘white people only’ water

By David Edwards
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 10:10 EDT
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Marrio Mangrum filed racism charge against cotton gin (WREG)
 
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A cotton gin in Memphis, Tennessee is facing a federal discrimination complaint after one of its supervisors was caught on a cell phone recording making racist remarks to black employees.

African-American workers at the Atkinson Cotton Warehouse this week described to WREG treatment that evoked cotton’s historic connections to racism and slavery.

According to Antonio Harris and Marrio Mangrum, their boss at the cotton gin longed for the days of Jim Crow, when white men could “hang” black men for drinking from the wrong water fountain.

“He would be like, ‘You need to think like a white man,’” Mangrum recalled.

“He pulled his pants down in front of us and told us to kiss his white tail,” Harris explained.

After enduring months of racist comments, Harris decided to use his cell phone to record an attempt to drink from a water fountain in the warehouse.

“I need to put a sign here that says ‘white people only,’” the supervisor says in the recording.

When Harris tries to use the microwave, the boss tells him he is not allowed to use it because “you are not white.”

“As a white man, we don’t even let Larry use it,” the boss notes in reference to a black employee who had worked at the cotton gin for over 10 years.

The supervisor goes on to lament that that blacks and whites are no longer kept separate in the United States through segregation.

“Back then, nobody thought anything about it,” he opines. “Now everybody is made to where to think it’s bad.”

“Put your sign on the wall then, because I am feeling to drink it,” Harris asks. “What would they do when they catch me drinking your water?”

“That’s when we hang you,” the supervisor warns.

Harris said that he thought about the racist treatment “every day of my life.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was working to mediate a settlement with the Atkinson Cotton Warehouse after Harris and Mangrum filed a discrimination complaint.

An employee of the cotton gin told WREG that the supervisor had been on vacation in recent days, but he had not been fired.

Watch the video below from WREG, broadcast June 2, 2014.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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