The Real "Norma Rae" Still Lives!

November 19, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

To Mark Dimondstein, Editor of The American Postal Worker

Dear Brother Mark,

I’m sure many APWU members have seen the Academy Award-winning Hollywood movie, Norma Rae. It is the story of Crystal Lee Sutton, the real ‘Norma Rae,’ the working-class hero, the “shero,” who became famous around the world for her courageous stand in the 1970’s successful union organizing drive of textile workers in eastern North Carolina. Many APWU members may not know that she was also a close friend of yours.

This September on the tenth anniversary of her death, her life was celebrated. I was honored to represent the APWU and you at this recognition of Crystal’s inspiring life, held at Alamance (N.C.) Community College where her books and papers are archived.

As a collaborator with Crystal on much union work over many years and a long-time personal friend of hers and her family, I was pleased to be asked to be a speaker, along with her children who spoke so proudly of their mother.

The stories were many, and were warm and inspiring. One of the most impactful was the greeting I shared from you. The fact that you have played a significant role in the U.S. labor movement in recent years, including in defense of working class women and leaders, made manifest how Crystal’s rich and generous legacy is still being carried on today in the labor movement.

Crystal Lee Sutton’s spirit lives on in all who are fighting for the empowerment of the union rank and file and for justice for working people all over the world!

Richard A. Koritz, APWU Solidarity Representative

There is More To Me

Growing up in a housing project,
down in Chattanooga Tennessee.
Having dreams and aspirations of
making a better life for me.
I paid for college, gained some
As a single parent raised my children
(all 3),
one a store Manager
one works in Logistics
one an Air Force Airman
Quite a feat you see.
As the years moved forward
during the course of my life I
stayed grounded
(I can’t help it being only 4ft. 10).
I took on the challenge of entering a
workforce that was predominantly
covered by men.
For I’m just a truck driver, that’s how
most view me,
when they’re on the outside looking
Not knowing what it takes for their
mail or packages to arrive,
by way of dedicated women and men.
Not knowing of all the long hours,
missed times spent with family
and or enjoying the gatherings of
It takes all of us
the Maintenance Crew, Mail Handlers,
Mechanics, Clerks, Letter Carriers, and
yes that Ol’ Truck Driver again.
For most days (not all) there’s a pep in
my step,
but always pride in my stride.
As I climb in my truck to prepare for
my day,
just that Ol’ Truck Driver inside.
Maneuvering through traffic, school
zones, and construction
always with Safety in mind.
Remembering of course, we’re the
Postal Service, so that means Rain,
Ice, Snow and Sunshine.
When you peel back the layers of all
that’s involved in getting the mail
from point A to point B,
and you’re sitting in traffic next to a
mail truck, look up and think about
what you see.
When I raised my hand and took my
Oath to provide a service you see,
I’m more than just a truck driver, who
is providing a service to unknown
names and unseen faces, all of which
are counting on me.
I do my best in the MVS as a TTO with
At the end of the day and with a
sigh of relief, it makes me feel good
— Christina “Pinkki” L. Smith,
member of Denver Area Local

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