The 1960s brought protests and unrest throughout the United States and Canton was no exception. For more than three months over 1963-1964, Canton Cotton Mill workers were on strike, demanding better pay, retirement and other benefits.
In this video from the WSB-TV archive (used here with permission), workers picket in front of Mill #2, which is now the Canton Mill Loft Apartments on Riverstone Parkway. The video is dated 1963.
After several months of rising tensions, the firing of four workers for refusing to paint the metal smokestacks at Mill #2 spurred a vote to go on strike, beginning Monday, October 28, 1963.
Some mill workers crossed picket lines but because of threats and few workers, the mill closed down. “One employee who continued working had bullets fire into his house, another was beaten and others had rocks thrown through their windows,” according to a Wall Street Journal article on the strike at the time.
According to the book “Canton Cotton Mills” by Michael A. Wagner and The Cherokee County Historical Society:
“A settlement was not reached to end the strike until January 24, 1964, with a vote of 555 to 27 to return to work. After fourteen weeks off the job and the loss of over one million dollars in wages, mill workers would finally return to their looms on Monday, February 3, 1964.”
Video courtesy: WSB Newsfilm collection, reel WSBN1124, 4:03/4:56, 0, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga.