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Mill Mother's Lament, song lyrics

Song: Mill Mother's Lament
Lyrics: Ella May Wiggins(1)

Year: 1929
Country: USA

We leave our home in the morning,
We kiss our children good-bye,
While we slave for the bosses,
Our children scream and cry.

And when we draw our money,
Our grocery bills to pay,
Not a cent to spend for clothing,
Not a cent to lay away.
This song was originally posted on
And on that very evening,
Our little son will say,
“I need some shoes, dear mother,
And so does sister May.”

How it grieves the heart of a mother,
You every one must know,
But we can’t buy for our children,
Our wages are too low.
This song was originally posted on
Now listen to me, workers,
Both women and men,
We are sure to win our union,
If all would enter in.

I hope this will be a warning,
I hope you will understand,
And help us win our victory,
And lend to us a hand.

It is for our little children,
That seem to us so dear,
But for us nor them, dear workers,
The bosses do not care.

But understand, all workers,
Our union they do fear,
Let’s stand together, workers,
And have a union here.


1 - Ella May Wiggins (1900 - 1929) biography. Ella May Wiggins was a skilled spinner, who joined the National Textile Works Union. On September 14, 1929, the truck in which she was riding was ambushed and stopped and she was shot through the heart.

2 - Gastonia Textile Strike of 1929, North Carolina.

3 - New Book Chronicles Ella May Wiggins, Lincoln Herarld, August 8, 2015, about the Loray Hill, in Gastonia, North Carolina.

4 - In Memoriam: Ella May Wiggins, Southern Labor Activist, by Ashely Sayeau, The Nation, September 14, 2010.

5 - A Historic Textile Mill Begins a New Chapter, by C.J. Hughes, New York Times, May 7, 2013.

6 - North Carolina Workers Strike in Gastonia from the University of North Carolina.

7 - Loray Mill Project, from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill.

8 - Women in the 1929 Textile Strikes in Elizabethton, Tennessee and Gastonia, North Carolina, by Steven K. Knapp, East Tennessee State University.