Now the role of the women is just being recognized and accepted for what it was. Now of course at this time in Chevrolet there were no female employees at all. Fisher body had a few. Each of the Fishers had a few working in the sewing room. They use to sew a lot of the upholstering in and for this they had women.

But I would say probably the women employed at Fisher body represented no more then six or seven or eight or nine percent of the employees. And none whatever at Chevrolet. But one of the great, one of the most outstanding leaders among the women in the sit-down, and for many years afterwards far as that's concerned.

Was the wife of Kermit Johnson, her name was Genora Johnson. And she played a very prominent role. She organized what's called the Red Berets. They were a group of women that would go to the sites of picket duties where ever there was any problems in that nature and assist the men.

She was a great help during the Battle of Bulls Run. When at the height of the battle, this was in January nineteen thirty-seven, before the culmination of the sit-down, when they were trying to evict the workers from Fisher Two. Vic Ruther was in the sound car out in front of plant, Fisher number two, and he had just about run out of steam.

This was a grueling task which he had, you know, keeping the spirits of all the people up and giving information to the people who were inside the plant. And it looked like it was a losing battle, and Vic was really at wit's end.

And Genora took over the microphone on the sound car and she began berating the police calling them cowards and scoundrels and shooting women. And this was such an inspirational thing, that it gave strength to the sit-downers who were in the plant and to a lot of the people who were outside the plant who came down to aid.

This inspired them, gave them a new hope. Genora played a marvelous role in that. I shudder to think what might have happened if she hadn't have taken the mic there at that time, because it was a woman, the voice of woman coming out of all of this turmoil and all of the firing that's going on and the tear gas which was hanging heavy over the street there.

And here is the voice of this woman coming up. Hang in there men, we're going to win this yet, they can't intimidate us. It was marvelous.

Show Transcript Speaker: Larry Jones. Interviewed by U-M Flint Labor History Project. Date of interview: 6-9-1978. Edited by Michael Van Dyke.

Copyright: ©2002 Michigan State University.