A Tennessee cotton factory is being investigated after a supervisor was allegedly recorded threatening to ‘hang’ a black employee if he drank water from the ‘whites-only’ fountain.
In something that could be straight out of the Jim Crow era, the unidentified supervisor at Atkinson Cotton Warehouse in Memphis is also heard comparing black employees to monkeys and pining for the days of racial segregation, claiming ‘now everybody is made to think it’s bad.’
After enduring months of racist taunts, forklift operator Antonia Harris resorted to secretly recording the bullying using his cell phone.
Now he and fellow victim Marrio Mengrum have filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying the shocking treatment has had a lasting effect on them.
The recording on his phone was sent to news channel WREG and features a man, allegedly his factory supervisor, firing racist abuse at Mr Harris as he tries to drink from a water fountain.
‘Hey’, says the man. ‘I need to put a sign there that says “white people only”‘.
After an argument, the man laughs as Mr Harris says: ‘Put your sign on the wall then, because I’m feeling to drink it. What they do when they catch me drinking your water?’
‘That’s when we hang you,’ the man replies.
Mr Harris is also heard saying he wants to use the microwave.
‘Hell no!’ the man replies. When asked why not, he says: ‘Because you are not white.’
Incredulous, Mr Harris says: ‘For real?’. The reply comes: ‘As a white man, we don’t even let Larry [a black employee of more than 10 years] use it.’