Up Beat Down South ''Battle Songs of the Southern Class Struggle" Songs of the Gastonia Textile Strike of 1929 BY PATRICK HUBER The bitter hatred displayed by the capitalists and their spokesmen, thepress, government andpulpit, against the Gastonia strikers, has imprinted itselfso indelibflyj in the hearts ofthe southern working class, that their children are singingfolk songs that have arisen spontaneouslyfrom their struggles. -- Daily Worker, 26 July 1929 On 25 August 1929 Margaret Larkin attended an outdoor strike rally near Mount Holly, a textile-mill town eight miles northeast of Gastonia, North Carolina. A left-wing journalist from New York City, Larkin had come south that summer to cover the upcoming trial of sixteen members of the National Textile Workers Union (ntwu) accused of murdering Gastonia police chief Orville F. Aderholt. On this particular day, despite occasional showers, more than five hundred strik- ing workers from several Gaston County textile mills had gathered at the all-day "speakin'" and barbecue. When Larkin arrived at the event, a union member named Ella May Wiggins was leading the assembled workers in a rousing rendition of "Chief Aderholt," a ballad she had composed about the police officer's death and the falsely-accused strikers' imprisonment. Wiggins
Southern Cultures – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jan 4, 1998
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