Jewish Women on the Map - Site of the 1929 Loray Textile Mill Strike
In 1929, labor activist and communist Sophie Gerson traveled with fellow members of the Young Communist League to Gastonia, N.C. in order to support workers participating in a strike at the Loray textile mill, which at the time was the largest mill under one roof in the South. During an attack on the workers by armed thugs hired by the textile mill, Gastonia's police chief was killed. Sophie and fifteen other strikers and activists were arrested and charged with murder. Defended by the National Textile Workers Union and the International Labor Defense, Sophie and the others charges were eventually acquitted.
Born in the Ukraine in 1910, Sophie immigrated as a child with her mother and brother to the U.S. and settled in Brooklyn, N.Y. A lifelong activist and dedicated communist, Sophie worked later in life with the National Council of Senior Citizens. She passed away in 2006.
Sophie (seated, front) is pictured here with with fellow defendants, Amy Schecter and Vera Bush, three of the 16 labor activists charged with the murder of a Gastonia, N.C. police chief in 1929. Photograph courtesy of the Gerson family.