Voyage to Ireland and Durham
This summer I was invited to give a talk on Mother Jones at Dublin's GPO, the famous post office where the Easter Rising was centered. Kate Klimut and Kim Archer, two friends of the project, and Dennis Surgalski, who was so generous with his support of the marker on I-55, came along. Kim Archer was a key organizer and President of the faculty union at SIU-E.
First, we went to the Durham Miners' Big meeting, hearing Jeremy Corbyn and meeting with the women who connected with Mother Jones during the great 1984 strike against neoliberalism. Then we proceeded to Cork, where we brought "mini-mother" to the streets. The "mini-Mother" was Kate's idea. What a creative mind.
Here are some gallery of images of our trip.
We take off, with our first stop at the Durham events. . The 2nd to last photo above is her with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the background speaking.
The Durham Miners Gala was revived in recent years. How did we get here? Well, we were first introduced to the Durham festival by Dave Hopper at the Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in 2012. Dave Hopper ordered our film, Mother Jones, America's Most Dangerous Woman. Hopper attended the Cork Festival regularly. Then he died an untimely death, and I regretted not having gone to the festival when he invited me.
Dave Hopper was one-of-a-kind, fourth generation miner who became General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association during the heart of the miners battles with Margaret Thatcher, when she determined to wipe the socialist influence by destroying the miners union in Great Britain. The big meeting survived after Thatchers attack on the Miners Union thanks to the work of Dave Hopper. It’s success has contributed and reflected the rise of Corbyn.
Hopper saw Mother Jones as part of a larger movement for workers rights, a cultural icon. So we brought her back to the festival!
Dave Hopper is honored in the banner on the right.
Corbyn topped off a list of speakers from the trade union movement who connected the tradition of the Durham Miners Festival to the present. Corbyn: In every socialist, two flames burn. One for the past, our debt to those who have sacrificed and died to keep the flame burning. Another flame for the way forward, to bring justice to our class. He talked about the need to teach Labor history in the schools so that every child would know this rich history. The history of the labor movement in Great Britain is tied to the early struggles of the Miners Union.
At this meeting, Labour Party and Trade Union Council members apologized for not keeping true to the heritage of socialist struggle as a legitimate part of the trade union struggle. The Labour Party flame came from the trade union movement.
The two fiery souls, Betty Cook and Ann Scargill, in these photos above, were key fighters of the 1984 Miners Strike, and are also responsible for the development of these banners in the Durham Miners Gala tradition. At the Miners Gala, above, where this banner was placed in a hall of honor in the Durham Cathedral. Rosemary Feurer, Betty Cook, Ann Scargill, Dennis Surgalski , and Kate Klimut, where Mothers banner was marched with an estimated 250000 crowd. Ann and Betty were leaders of Women in the 1984 1985 Miners struggles Durham Miners' Gala. We are affirming the transnational bonds of solidarity.
Above: From the Bells of Shandon to the streets of Cork! We discovered a marker to an almshouse Mary Harris was sure to have passed. The last photo is at the location most of those with the closest knowledge think was the area she was born. The marker photos are of Rosemary, Kim, Kate, Dennis and of Ger O'Mahony of the festival. We also have her at the River Lee.
In Inchigeelah, where Mother's Cotter ancestors lived. The red building is the church where her parents were married. The next slide is one of her ancestors.
In Dublin, at the statues of James Connolly and Jim Larkin, trade unionists who were comrades of Mother Jones, and last one is me speaking at the GPO. I was grateful for the opportunity. The image of Kate and me with arms raised, Larkin style, is at Liberty Hall, the Headquarters for SIPTU, which also is the site that played a role in the Easter Rising. The Connolly statue is right across from it. Last year, they put up a Mother Jones quote on the outside of the hall!