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  • Chicago Federation of Labor Endorses Statue Campaign

    From the beginning of our campaign for a Chicago Statue, we have had advice and support from officers of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Now they have passed a very strong resolution of support, highlighting the history of Mother Jones and the relationship. They call for affiliates to donate to the campaign. We thank Don Villar, secretary-treasurer of the CFL, for his work and sharing this resolution. Chicago Federation of Labor Mother Jones Statue Resolution WHEREAS, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (1837-1930) was an Irish refugee from Cork fleeing the Great Famine who became a teacher, married a union iron molder, lost her husband and all four children to yellow fever in 1867, and then opened a dress shop which was destroyed along with her home in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; WHEREAS, out of these tragedies Jones found a new family in the emerging Chicago labor movement, joined the Knights of Labor, became an organizer for the American Railway Union around the struggle at Pullman, campaigned for the Socialist Party and organized for the United Mine Workers, such that by 1900, she was universally known as the “Mother of the Labor Movement,” defender of working families and enemy of child labor; WHEREAS, Mother Jones organized workers across all racial and ethnic lines during a period of extreme racism and bigotry, believing from her own experiences that poverty and the lack of choices were the same for all working class people, men and women, black and white, immigrant and native born, preaching to workers that through solidarity they held their fate in their own hands; WHEREAS, the Chicago Federation of Labor longstanding and deep connection to Mother Jones’ work and President John Fitzpatrick was one of her closest friends and confidants; WHEREAS, Mother Jones often lovingly referred to President Fitzgerald and Secretary Ed Nockels as “the boys,” joining with the CFL leaders in countless strikes, fights, and power struggles; WHEREAS, after her passing, President Fitzpatrick served as the executor of her will, Secretary Nockels arranged her funeral, and WCFL broadcast the proceedings to the world; WHEREAS, a district attorney said at her trial for ignoring an injunction banning meetings by striking miners in 1902, “There sits the most dangerous woman in America. She comes into a state where peace and prosperity reign…crooks her finger and twenty thousand contented men lay down their tools and walk out;” WHEREAS, attorney and ACLU leader Clarence Darrow wrote: “In all her career, Mother Jones never quailed or ran away. Her deep convictions and fearless soul always drew her to seek the spot where the fight was hottest and the danger greatest;” WHEREAS, the Mother Jones Heritage Project has a campaign to erect a statue in the City of Chicago of Mother Jones, one of the most famous women of the early 20th century and a labor icon to workers everywhere; WHEREAS, a statue of Mother Jones in Chicago would remind us that workers built this city, would begin to rectify the absence of statues of women, and would tell the world that Chicago has always been a city of immigrants; WHEREAS, Chicago has few if any outdoor statues to honor women’s contributions to history; THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Chicago Federation of Labor endorses the Mother Jones Statue Campaign and urges the City of Chicago to approve the proposed site and project to erect this Statue and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chicago Federation of Labor urges its members and affiliates to donate to support this work, raise awareness of Mother Jones’ vital contributions to labor and women’s history in their own ranks and participate in activities to bring it to fruition. Adopted by CFL Executive Board on May 3, 2021 Accepted and passed by CFL Delegates May 4, 2021 Don V. Villar, Chicago Federation of Labor, Secretary Treasurer

  • Mother Jones 100th Birthday Party, 1930

    The telegrams came in by the hundreds on May 1, 1930, to the remote Burgess farmhouse in Maryland, where Mother Jones lived out her final days. Almost none have survived. One that does is from John Fitzpatrick, the head of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Courtesy Saul Schniderman "The hundreds of thousands of trade unionists affiliated with the Chicago Federation of Labor through its officers sends greetings to you on this the hunredth anniversary of your birthday coupled wit the sincere hope that the labor movement in general and Chicago in particular may enjoy your inspirational spirit for another century of still greater progress," Fitzpatrick wrote. In her response, she thanked him for their many years of comradeship, and signed her letter, "Yours for justice." Mother Jones had claimed May Day as her birthday, no doubt reveling in her own little mission to keep the memory of the day alive. Indeed, she felt she had been reborn to what she referred to as “a happy life” in the struggle. This was not the first time John Fitzpatrick had sent Jones a telegram for her birthday. Another that survives is the one he sent to her in Mexico in 1921, when she was being feted for her support of the Mexican Revolution. She responded to Fitzpatrick by noting the connections with Chicago's labor heroes in the strong workers movement in the town of Orizaba, a manufacturing city. There, she noted, the workers displayed a banner of the Chicago Haymarket martyrs, giving it equal footing to the new national banner. Had such a banner been displayed in Chicago, she said, “every one of them would have been put in jail.” Notably, the "tribute paid to that banner as it entered that hall was the most remarkable demonstration I had witnessed in all my years in the industrial conflict,” and more remarkable was the absence of police at a large meeting, given their regular presence at labor demonstrations in the U.S. The celebration for her 100th in 1930 was originally planned for Chicago, and it was going to be the biggest birthday party ever held in the city. But pneumonia struck before the celebration and made a trip impossible. So instead, Fitzpatrick sent Secretary-Treasurer Ed Nockles as the official representative to the Burgess Farm. (You can learn about that celebration here.) Mother Jones likely did not know who would make it to the remote farmhouse, especially in the wake of the economic panic and hard times. She and her caregiver, Lilian Burgess, were stunned themselves with the deluge, as hundreds of people did arrive in addition to telegrams. The newsreel cameras turned on, but until I produced the short film on Mother Jones in 2007, no biographer had access to the full statement that survived in the long interview. “You know, I’ve been called a Bolshevik, a red, a radical, an IWW, and I admit to being all they’ve charged me with. I’m ANYTHING that would change this moneyed civilization into a higher and grander civilization for the ages to come. And I long to see the day when Labor has the destination of the nation in her own hands, and she will stand a united force, and show the world what the workers can do.” That was a statement curated for May Day, still so relevant for our time. For her it harkened to a trail of spilled blood and high ambition for the future, just as Fitzpatrick's telegram suggested that she was a touchstone for Chicago. In true form, Mother Jones greeted the the unemployed army of young and old, Black and white who came for her birthday with equal accord to the labor and government officials. such as head of the American Federation of Labor According to Mrs. Burgess, Mother Jones was fine with letting the dignitaries wait in line as she greeted these unemployed workers who had walked all the way from an unemployed conference in Washington, D.C.

  • Meeting with Chicago Monuments Committee

    Yesterday we had a heartening meeting with leaders of the Chicago Monuments Committee. Bill Fraher of our committee was also present, but not pictured above. In the last year, the turmoil over statues and representation placed a delay in gaining approval for the location of our Mother Jones Chicago statue. Now there is a new process , in which have to prove our support. You can help us. Our team made the case that 1. The statue presents an opportunity to invite Chicagoans to reevaluate the way they see themselves by recalling this city’s history from below—the history of immigrants, the history of women, the history of labor. 2. Mother Jones speaks to this pandemic moment. Mother Jones, a plague survivor, argued that no one should be left behind. She elevated the role of immigrants, women, African-Americans, and workers from all places and believed that those at the bottom had the potential to transform society. 3. Mother Jones’s story is not only a story of the past, it a story of the present and the future--a global city that should have a symbol of those who build the city from the ground up. 4. The Mother Jones Chicago Statue Committee is composed of Chicagoland residents. 5. We have significant fundraising accomplished, with a wide range of endorses and donors, from construction trades, Irish, women, teachers, service workers. 6. We have 2 talented & committed female artists. (see statue page) They let us know that they were impressed with the coalition we have built to win a prominent location. Our committee was thankful to be joined by Don Villar, secretary-treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Yesterday, the formal process and website was announced. We are getting closer, folks. Help us. 1) Make your endorsement today. Let the City of Chicago know that you support this project. 2) Donations are a tell-tale sign of support for this project. . Please donate. We appreciate all of our donations so far, that have ranged from $5 to 10,000. Every donation counts. We will be launching the donations and endorsements lists on our page--more to come!

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  • Union Miners Cemetery | MotherJonesMuseum

    Mother Jones Monument Union Miners Cemetery, Mt. Olive About Mother Jones' Monument View Pictures of the Site Guided Tour Mother Jones’ decision to be buried in Mt. Olive, Illinois' Union Miners Cemetery was due to the battles that were rooted not only in the 1890s but in the 1920s and 1930s. Jones valued the voice of the ordinary miner, and she felt that President John L. Lewis, the head of the United Mine Workers, was eliminating that rank-and-file voice. One month after she spoke at the commemoration event on October 12, 1923, she formally announced the site as her burial place. In 1930 she died and was initially buried there next to the Virden "martyrs" . ​ Soon, a fundraising effort was underway by the miners to build a fitting monument to Mother Jones. In the heart of the depression, when miners around the country were often penniless, they donated in mostly small amounts to build a tremendous 80-ton Minnesota pink granite, 22 feet high, flanked by two bronze statues of miners. They dug the site themselves. The site itself evokes what Mother Jones meant to a generation of trade unionists. The Union Miners Cemetery is in Mt. Olive, a small mining-town that was once the center of a rebellious group of miners who helped to secure Illinois as the solid rock for the United Mine Workers Union. Today thousands of visitors come each year to pay their respects to the memory to Mother Jones and the spirit that guided her and the founders of the labor movement in the United States. They reflect about the connections between the past and the present. ​ The cemetery was established in 1899, when commemorations of the miners killed in the 1898 “Virden riot” became controversial in the Mt. Olive cemetery where they were originally buried. The bodies of the Virden “martyrs” were re-interred in a cemetery established as the Union Miners Cemetery by the Mt. Olive United Mine Workers local. Commemorations of these events in the following years contributed to a generation of activism in the Illinois coal fields. They did this by claiming the kind of memorial space that was denied in other places, such as Haymarket, where police often disrupted commemorations. This built a sense of connection between past and present in the area, and made it clear that ordinary workers had changed the course of history. The role of the ordinary worker came into focus. Mt. Olive was one of the few places in the country where labor history was taught before the 1970s. This is a unique place in the history of the labor movement; it was the only union-owned cemetery in the country. This is a place with a monument to Mother Jones, but it also evokes the power and potential of the labor movement. It is a place of reflection and remembering, of thinking of the labor movement’s roots. It is a shrine not only to Jones but to the sacrifices that connected human rights and labor rights, a place where people wonder when and why labor lost power. Guided Tour Learn about this site and the controversies that surrounded it. See dozens of photos, songs, poems, performance by actress Vivian Nesbitt. about the tremendous struggle and effort that brought Mother Jones to this site. The tour below can be accessed from either your computer, or the Vamonde app. You can download the Vamonde app for Apple or Android device. This will give you the mapping guides to take the tour. Copyright Rosemary Feurer & Mother Jones Heritage Project. Funded by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. Sites & Stories / Tours / Union Miners Cemetery

  • Mother Jones | Mother Jones Museum | United States

    Learn More Who was Mother Jones? When Mother Jones was mocked as the “grandmother of all agitators,” in the U.S. Senate, she replied that she would someday like to be called “the great-grandmother of all agitators.” Born Mary Harris in Cork Ireland in 1837, she was an immigrant refugee who lost her entire family in a pandemic, then lost everything in the Chicago Fire of 1871. ​ ​ She became a rebel for justice, and became known simply as "Mother Jones," the mother of the working class. An icon of labor history, she organized against child labor, for workers rights, and helped to shape a spirit of civil disobedience in the cause of justice. Mother Jones believed that a workers movement would replace “this moneyed civilization with a higher and grander civilization for the ages to come.” To learn more, including a short documentary about her, see : Who was Mother Jones? Chicago Mother Jones Statue Campaign Statue Campaign Recent Blogs Chicago Federation of Labor Endorses Statue Campaign Write a comment Mother Jones 100th Birthday Party, 1930 Write a comment Meeting with Chicago Monuments Committee Write a comment 1 Marty Walsh, the Department of Labor Nominee, and Mother Jones Write a comment Mother Jones Died 90 years ago Write a comment #StrikeforOurLivesUIC: Mother Jones on the Line with SEIU 73 & Illinois Nurses Association Write a comment

  • Statue Donors | MotherJonesMuseum

    Donors - Chicago Statue Campaign Thanks to all who have donated and endorsed the Mother Jones Chicago statue project. We are half-way there! Add your name today. See our Endorsers Donate to the Statue Campaign Kevin Byrne, Ireland's Consul General to Chicago and the Midwest A Mother Jones statue will stand as a fine testament not only of the contribution that Irish women have made to America but also the great contribution of all immigrant women to this country, a story that often goes untold ​ Donors ​ Mother Jones Legacy ​$10,000 & above ​Government of Ireland Chicago Teachers Union with members match ​Roofers Local 11 Painters District Council 14 ​ History Makers $5000 level ​Bricklayers ADC1 Chicago Sprinkler Fitters Local 281 ​ ​ Fight for the Living $1000 and above ​Ernestina Padilla i n honor of Lotty Blumenthal & Geri Baginski Brigid Duffy Gerace Helen Ramirez-Odell Mary Lou Edwards Anonymous CTU Women's Rights Committee In honor of David J. Rathke United Mine Workers of America ($2000) Illinois Education Association Staff Organization Eugene Debs Foundation Plumbers Local 130 Dowd, Bloch, Bennett, Cervone, Auerbach and Yokich Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee ​ Justice Warrior $500 and above Saul Schniderman Bakers Union Jeanne Graham Hector Arrellano Timothy Gilfoyle Raymond O. Wicklander Anonymous Paul Bailey Carpenters Chicago ​ Sons & Daughters of Mother Jones $250 & above ​ Margaret Fulkerson Coalition of Labor Union Women David Prosten Working Women's History Project Patricia O'Brien Jacqueline Kirley Marcus Rediker Julia Nowicki Helen Elkiss Sheila Durkin Kenny & Becky Osborne Barry Bennett ​ ​Working Class Hero ​$100 & above ​Carl Rosen Blythe and Associates Shari Paul Leah Humes Sue Walton Sandra O'Donnell Zeese Papanikolas John J. Vespo Theresa Boyle Stephen Jones Donald Marcus Taru Spiegel David Johnson Noel Beasley ​Harold Rosenthal Stephen Goldberg Rosemary Trump Virginia Ayers Susan Strauss John Enyeart James Tibensky In memory of Gary Puleio Eileen Durkin Ellen Skerrett Byrne, Brennan and Richards Family Ellen Garza Acknowledging and honoring Chicago's women organizers and activists is crucial to our identity. Jeana Brown Women do because Mother did. Christine George ​Sue Sebesta Christopher and Bernadette Murphy Dan Durkin Gemma Doyle Michelle Frenette "From a proud Sangamon State Labor Relations program alumni" ​ Trailblazer $50 & above Shannon Zalinski David Jablonsky George & Rhonda Milkowski Kassandra Tsitsopoulos "Long live Mother Jones and female union members!" Norine Gutekanst Michael Savoir Robert Bloch William Hassett Nicholas Bode James Schaudt DB Hunt in honor of Elliott Gorn John Powell Susanne Paradis Ivana Krajcinovic Joanne & August Ricca David Richardson Rita Alfonso LaBarbera Julie Quirin Colleen White John Zurzaw Joan S. Jacobs Phyllis Magee Donald Morris Marion Sirefman Kathleen Carey Bernie Eshoo ​​Grassroots $25.00 & below Judith Dever Phillip Dortsch Jennifer L. Johnson Carlene M. Blumenthal Amanda Scampini Mary Ann Trasciatti anonymous Jerry & Irene Adler Stephanie Cummings Collins Lois Evans * * This donation is by LuLu LoLo whose campaign "Where are the Women? in 2015 highlighted the lack of monuments to women in NYC David Band Robert Stauffer Karl Knobler Patricia A. Wright Robert Lehrer Diane M. Dorsey ​Martin Mikinas Michael Zielinski Louis Wolf Kenneth DeBay Elizabeth Hastings Henry Ooten David Tarlo Ed Pickford Bonnie Shapiro Marissa Koziar Ann F. Hoffman Dr. B Iverson Dean Doberstein Bruce Trigg "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living! " I am honored to support this effort in the memory of this great woman. Stephen Mitchell Deborah Pope Deborah Montgomery Anna Johnson Stuart Walsh Madalyn Kenney Angela Just Endorsements Donors - Amount Undisclosed Elliott Gorn "Because, as Upton Sinclair wrote, ". . .wherever she went, the flame of protest has leaped up in the hearts of men, her story was a veritable ODYSSEY of revolt."

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