The American Bemberg Strike of 1929 is a compilation of raw film footage of the historic worker strikes that occurred for three months in 1929 at the German-owned American Bemberg rayon factory, located in Elizabethton, TN, concerning low wages, high work hours, and general labor exploitation.  The film was captured by the company’s photographer  and shows the Southern resistance to industrialism through scenes of class division that is still present in modern Appalachia.
The New South movement of the 1920’s sparked industrial interest in Appalachia, promising “rewards of prosperity” from “cheap labor, substandard working conditions, and preferential treatment of industry”  provided by the Southern communities. The film’s wide pans of open land surrounding the enormous Bemberg factory depicts the possible untouched riches of a new industrialized Appalachia full of cheap labor and high profit. In contrast to the dream of a rich South, the film’s raw footage of the Bemberg factory strike unveils the true image of war between the upper and working classes, and the resistance of locals having their labor exploited. The scenes of soldiers standing guard and large factory fences elevates the division and turmoil between the company and the workers; however, the later scene of the bosses sinister-like laughing and jostling the local sheriff shows their lack of concern and seriousness for the strike and overall town, as if it is a small phase that will soon pass with time.
The film shows many of the workers on strike in their “Sunday best” clothing; the small act was “to appear respectable before the bourgeois classes of the community.”  Workers proved both their humanity and self-worth by attempting to appear equal to their rich and luxurious bosses. The workers must also have been self-conscious of the possible media surrounding the strike, too, since the South was predicted to be “the greatest industrial city in the United States,”  and they certainly represented their best-dressed selves. With the media attention and their church clothes perfectly placed, the Appalachian labor employees showed to the world that their labor and freedom would not be exploited and would come with a fair price. Sadly, even though the laborers pushed for more money and displayed their worthiness through elaborate clothes, American Bemberg only agreed to a small wage increase, and the workers agreed to go back to work.
American Bemberg Strike of 1929 shows the possibility of an industrialized and rich Appalachia, but it also displays the courage and strong-will of the Elizabethton people. Locals were able to stand up to labor exploitation and capitalistic moguls, even though it costed Appalachia a potentially thriving industrialized city. The low wages and poor living conditions of modern Appalachia could be effects of the American Bemberg Strike of 1929; however, when looking over the film and seeing the proud, well-dressed Elizabethton’s standing up against labor exploitation, it’s possible that the Appalachian locals of today wouldn’t change a thing.
 Hodges, James A. “Challenge to the New South: The Great Textile Strike in Elizabethton, Tennessee, 1929.” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 4, 1964, pp. 343–357. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42622780.
 Tedesco, Marie. “Claiming Public Space, Asserting Class Identity, and Displaying Patriotism: The 1929 Rayon Workers’ Strike Parades in Elizabethton, Tennessee.” Journal of Appalachian Studies, vol. 12, no. 2, 2006, pp. 55–87. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41446748.
 American Bemberg Strike of 1929 Film, Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University