"Lift Every Voice.” Rev. of The Last Ballad, by Wiley Cash

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Events live on beyond their historical moment in language, whether through speech or the written word. Perhaps second only to the trial, conviction, and execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the 1929 strike at the Manville-Jenckes owned Loray Mill textile mill in Gastonia, NC, is the most (in)famous event in American labor history, in large part due to the words produced during and immediately after the strike. Despite the significant attention devoted to the Loray Mill strike of 1929, conditions were not considerably different than those at other Southern textile mills and during other textile mill strikes. One significant difference between other 1929 strikes and the one at the Loray Mill, however, was the presence of organizers, led by Fred Beal, from the Communist Party-affiliated National Textile Workers Union (NTWU). The Communist Party publications The Daily Worker and Labor Defender made the events of the Gastonia strike national as well as international news, leading to coverage of the strike by such mainstream periodicals as Harper’s and the New York Times. Significantly, with the exception of the Gastonia Daily Gazette, which decried the actions taken by striking workers, almost all press accounts expressed sympathy for the striking workers and later the trial defendants, regardless of political orientation.


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