RIP Crystal Lee Sutton

Crystal Lee Sutton, the woman whose fight to unionize the factory floor of the North Carolina textile plant at which she worked was made into the amazing film Norma Rae, has died at age 68.

Sutton ended her life fighting another iconic battle of working Americans: Trying to get her health insurance company to pay for her life-saving cancer treatments.
She has been married to Lewis Preston Sutton Jr. for 30 years and he works two jobs to take care of her while she battles Meniginoma - a cancer that is usually slow growing with benign tumors. Unfortunately, that is not the case for Sutton.

"I said I've always been different and I wouldn't have this cancer thing be any other way. I accept it," she said. "It has to follow my personality."

She went two months without possible life-saving medications because her insurance wouldn't cover it, another example of abusing the working poor, she said.

"How in the world can it take so long to find out (whether they would cover the medicine or not) when it could be a matter of life or death," she said. "It is almost like, in a way, committing murder."
Sutton eventually got her meds, but the fight to have basic medical treatments covered went on as did her disease, as is the case for so many Americans, who discover only when they most need their insurance that it sucks, who suddenly find out in the cruelest way what it means in practical terms to have a for-profit healthcare system model.

As soulless and unconcerned about American lives as Corporate America is, Sutton was as passionate and committed to social justice, to the people, like her, whose lives are a series of struggles against the "market forces" that seek to exploit them for financial gain.
Sutton's small brick home chronicles the battles she fought and the people who have acknowledged her sacrifices. Her walls and refrigerator are plastered with photos of her three children, two stepchildren, 11 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She hopes they will follow in footprints.

"Stand up for what you believe in, not matter how hard it makes life for you," she said. "Do not give up and always say what you believe."

..."It is not necessary I be remembered as anything, but I would like to be remembered as a woman who deeply cared for the working poor and the poor people of the U.S. and the world," she said. "That my family and children and children like mine will have a fair share and equality."
We'll remember you, Ms. Sutton. We'll remember you as a teaspoon-wielding badass, who left the world a little bit better than she found it. Thank you.


Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus