Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Remember the Wobblies?

What do the names Big Bill Haywood, Daniel De Leon, Eugene V. Debs, Thomas J Hagerty, Lucy Parsons, Mary Harris Jones (commonly known as “Mother Jones”), William Trautmann, Vincent Saint John and Ralph Chaplin mean to you? Is it time to refresh your memory of the history of the Labor Movement?

May 1st, International Workers' Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized in every country except the United States, Canada, and South Africa. This despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States, with the fight for an eight-hour work day.

Today, marches across the country remind us of the importance of protest in securing the rights of working people.

As IWW songwriter Joe Hill wrote in one of his most powerful songs:

Workers of the world, awaken!

Rise in all your splendid might
Take the wealth that you are making,
It belongs to you by right.
No one will for bread be crying
We'll have freedom, love and health,
When the grand red flag is flying
In the Workers' Commonwealth.

Joe Hill himself is memorialized in a song popularized by singer Joan Baez “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night.” When Fr. George visited a few months ago, he and Windy sang this song together with many “extra” verses George had written.

Many of you know the bullet hole in the antique walnut secretary in my living room came from a labor uprising among newspaper workers in Kansas City. Possibly this was one of the first documented “drive-by shootings” and aimed at my Grandfather’s house in the early 1900’s.

These are some of my Labor Movement memories on the "Real Labor Day."


Post a Comment

<< Home