During the winter of 1940, filmmaker H. Lee Waters documented the locals of Mountain City and Shouns, Tennessee for his Movies of Local People series, showcasing merchants, schoolchildren, and the African American community.  Not only does the black and white silent film depict the rise of Southern industrialization in the era of World War II, but it also reveals the hardships and seclusion of the African American communities living in the Jim Crow South.
The manufacturing demands of World War II creates millions of jobs across America, including the South. “During the war the region added more than a million manufacturing workers to its 1939 total of about 1.3 million and more than four billion dollars’ worth of new factory structures and equipment.”  Waters’ film shows the effect of these newly created jobs by displaying the plethora of stores located on the main street and wide pans of the fully stocked merchandise within. Short scenes of locals deciding between shoes, hats, clothes, and other personal items provides an overarching imagine of a thriving economy and industrialized Appalachia that might not have been possible without the creation of World War II jobs. 
Even though Waters’ provides a wealthy image of the white locals in clean suits and flashy dresses, there’s a vast contrast to the small glimpses of the African American community represented in his film. As Kersten states in his article, “not all felt the return of prosperity equally”  because many African Americans were not allowed employment at the new factories. From 1865 to 1968, Jim Crow laws plagued the Southern and Appalachian regions, and “Black codes were strict local and state laws that detailed when, where, and how formerly slaved people could work, and for how much compensation” as a “legal way to put Black citizens into indentured servitude.”  These barriers may not be at the forefront of the film, but the images of segregated African Americans in worn out clothes taken by Waters’ provides a small glance into these important, life-altering racial injustices in Southern Appalachia.
Not only does the H. Lee Waters film proclaim the vast increase in manufacturing jobs and wealth in the South during World War II, but it also gives an identity to the racially profiled African Americans who were outcasted from the boom of a growing industrialization. The surface of Waters’ film may portray a thriving, diverse community located in Mountain City, Tennessee; however, after a closer examination, the film shows the fundamental inequality of Jim Crow laws that has plagued and influenced Appalachian racism still seen today.
 History.com Editors. “Jim Crow Laws.” History, A&E Television Networks, 28 Feb. 2018, www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.
 H. Lee Waters Film, Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University
 Lewis, Robert. “World War II Manufacturing and the Postwar Southern Economy.” The Journal of Southern History, vol. 73, no. 4, 2007, pp. 837–866. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27649570. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.
 Kersten, Andrew E. “African Americans and World War II.” OAH Magazine of History, vol. 16, no. 3, 2002, pp. 13–17. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25163520. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.