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Paul Revere Christopher

Influential labor leader Paul Revere Christopher was born in Easley, South Carolina, the son of Clarence Christopher, a craft unionist. Christopher graduated from high school in 1930 and attended Clemson Agricultural College. In 1931 he returned to the textile mills, where he had worked part-time since age fourteen. In August 1932 Christopher married Mary Elizabeth Lybrand; they had two children.

Christopher joined the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA), becoming local president in 1933 and vice-president of the North Carolina Federation of Labor in 1934. That same year, he was designated UTWA strike coordinator for western North Carolina. After the 1934 textile strike failed, he continued organizing in the Carolinas, joining the Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC) in 1937. In May 1939 he was appointed South Carolina director of the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) and elected a vice-president of the national TWUA.

Christopher resigned from TWUA, moving to Tennessee in October 1940, to become Tennessee CIO State Industrial Union Council secretary-treasurer. Appointed CIO regional director for Tennessee in 1942, he acted as special mediation representative for Region Four National War Labor Board, led the Tennessee CIO "Operation Dixie" from 1946 to 1952; headed the Tennessee Volunteer Organizing Committee; combated management dilatory tactics spawned by the Taft-Hartley Act; and worked to minimize AFL raiding of newly certified CIO locals. Appointed CIO regional director for Region Four (Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia) in 1953, he supported the merger efforts of the AFL and CIO, and was appointed AFL-CIO director for Region Eight (Kentucky and Tennessee) in 1964, a position he retained until his death in February 1974, in Knoxville.

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010