Today in labor history: Textile workers ambushed

On this day in 1929, during the Loray Mill strike in Gastonia, North Carolina, National Textile Workers Union members were ambushed by a group of armed men.

The group – consisting of local vigilantes and a sheriff’s deputy – attacked the workers on their way back home from a meeting. They proceeded to force mill striker and songwriter Ella Mae Wiggins’ pickup truck off the road, and shot the 29 year-old mother of nine in the chest, killing her.

Though there were around 50 witnesses during the assault, five of the attackers were arrested – but all acquitted of her murder.

After her death, the AFL-CIO expanded Wiggins’ grave marker in 1979, to include the phrase, “She died carrying the torch of social justice.”

Photo: Wiggins’ children at their mother’s grave, on the day of her funeral.   Tumblr



Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.