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home : community : community June 26, 2019

2/26/2019 12:23:00 AM
Loray Mill Strike Exhibit Starts March 2
Runs through August at Gaston County Museum
(Photo Courtesy GCMAH - Originally Published In Labor Defender)
(Photo Courtesy GCMAH - Originally Published In Labor Defender)

Lincoln Herald Staff

DALLAS, N.C. - It’s 90 years now since the Loray Mill strike in Gastonia.

It’s an event of enormous regional and even national importance, talked about for four generations now in both Gaston and Lincoln counties and elsewhere.

And you can learn more about this when you attend “The 1929 Strike: A Community Divided” exhibit at the Gaston County Museum of Art and History in downtown Dallas. The free exhibit starts March 2 and runs through mid-August.

According to museum curator Jason Luker, the exhibit will explore the details of this event so critical in the development of modern American labor. It will explain why so many people––perhaps your own grandparents or great-grandparents––chose to organize with the National Textile Workers Union. It will also explicate how this strike affected mills throughout North Carolina, the South and as far away as New England, where textile workers were organized into unions and thus made nearly twice as much as their Southern counterparts. They also enjoyed much shorter working hours and exponentially better conditions.

You’ll learn more about the usually squalid domestic conditions and appallingly filthy and even physically dangerous health hazards that Southern mill workers routinely endured prior to the reforms of the Franklin Roosevelt administration, just a few years earlier. Thanks to FDR, child labor––a thing taken for granted throughout the South for generations––was finally abolished just over 80 years ago. And amongst other reforms came the typical eight-hour work day as we know it today.

The museum’s exhibit will contrast the views of those who worked in the mills––slaving away for 16 hours a day, six days a week, all for meager wages­––with the men, usually absentee Northern investors, who owned the mills.

The Gaston County Museum of Art and History is located at 131 W. Main St. in Dallas.

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