In 1929, Communist Party organizers came to the Loray Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina hoping to ignite a socialist revolution. The ensuing strike drew worldwide attention to this small, conservative, rural community. The strike created two martyrs: the town's Chief-of-Police, Orville Aderholt, and a feisty mill worker named Ella May, who inspired her fellow-workers with ballads and courageous stands against oppression. After Aderholt's killing, anyone suspected of harboring communist sympathies was rounded up and jailed, spawning protests in major cities throughout Europe and the United States. Ella May achieved celebrity status on the political left, which persists to this day. George Loveland explores the concept of historical consciousness as he weaves this compelling story. He recounts his own experiences growing up in Gaston County, working part-time in one of its textile mills, studying North Carolina history in its public schools, and never hearing the story until he reached adulthood. Why was this epic story buried for so long? Was it a sense of shame, or fear? Loveland asks these questions of a Gaston County mill owner whose father was apprenticing to take over the family's textile empire in 1929, the great-great nephew of Chief Aderholt, and the great-granddaughter of Ella May. What he finds suggests a deeper understanding of how these historical events shape our attitudes and influence our world view.