Gastonia

An image of the book cover for 'The Last Ballad' by Wiley Cash
William Morrow

 

In the spring of 1929 more than a thousand workers at the Loray Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina walked off their jobs and went on strike. At the time the mill was one of the largest producers of textiles in the South, but harsh labor conditions and unfair pay sparked unrest among the workers.

Protests went on for months and even led to violent clashes with the police. The events at the mill brought a textile worker named Ella May Wiggins into the spotlight. Wiggins served as a union organizer and also became an influential ballad singer.

Portrait of Marshall Rauch from 1962.
Courtesy Marshall Rauch

Marshall Rauch made a name for himself as the first Jewish senator in North Carolina. Before that he played basketball for Duke, fought in World War II, helped integrate Gastonia, and was the largest producer of Christmas ornaments in the world.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Rauch about his legacy and how his faith played a key role in everything he did including the Christmas business.