- #StrikeforOurLivesUIC: Mother Jones on the Line with SEIU 73 & Illinois Nurses Association
"Pray for the Dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living" was never more appropriate than for these care workers. They are fighting for the health of their patients and their fellow health-care workers at University of Illinois-Chicago hospital. Mother Jones spurs them on! They are also on strike at other hospitals in Illinois along with members of the Illinois Nurses Association, who called us up to work out bringing Mother Jones. Join them if you can. UIC is bringing strikebreakers from Texas, Tennessee, Nevada and Mississippi, all of which are on the City of Chicago's COVID ban, meaning they risk patients' lives. Diane Palmer, President of Local 73, said, "we are not only fighting for their livelihoods, but for their lives, the safety of their families and the communities being served." #SafetyInNumbers #FightForOurLives Doris Carroll, President of INA, with nurses pictured above, channelled Mother Jones when she proclaimed, "We're not heroes, WE'RE Warriors!"
- Lindsay Hand's Art Brings Fannie Sellins Spirit to Life
We are thrilled to reveal the new painting of Fannie Mooney Sellins, created by Lindsay Hand. We commissioned this with funding from the Government of Ireland. Fannie was gunned down and bludgeoned in 1919 by the Coal and Iron Police in a coal mining area near Pittsburgh, Alle-kiska, known as the Black Valley for its association with coal. The coal company officials in the area hated Fannie Sellins, and the miners felt she was taken out because of her effectiveness in organizing. She was known for her commitment to crossing the boundaries of race and ethnic division. “Kill the B____!” the gunmen reportedly shouted as Fannie came to the aid of Joseph Strzelecki, an old miner, who the gunmen were beating with their pistols. Her body was dragged by her heels to a touring car used by the mine guard deputies which toured the region in a menacing fashion, then according to a witness, dumped on the floor of the morgue alongside Strzelecki's. The dominant image of Fannie that crossed the years was that of her grisly death, such as the one here published in a pro-union Butte Montana newspaper. After they bludgeoned her, according to one report, the deputies took her hat and danced with it, mocking, “I’m Mrs. Sellins now!” This image was later also used in the 1936-1937 organizing by the Steel Workers union to show what the steel trust (who controlled the coal) would do to prevent unionism and to inspire solidarity. In 1920 the United Mine Workers erected a monument to her at her gravesite. John Walker, the head of the Illinois United Mine Workers, was the main speaker, giving a hint of her connection to Illinois miners. None of the men who killed her were brought to justice. In a time when the red scare was igniting, she was called the base of foreign influence, accused of instigating a riot, who deserved her fate. There are just a few other images of Sellins that indicate her living spirit, and that’s why we commissioned Lindsay Hand to bring her full spirit to life. She’s done it! Lindsay commented, “ I had not painted a more classic styled portrait in several years and the decision to return to this approach came while researching and ruminating on how to approach this piece. I’ve often seen the portrait of Elsie Palmer by John Singer Sargent in the Colorado Arts Center and stood in awe of it. I considered the time it was painted and the contrast of the “elite” at the turn of the century who were hiring Sargent to do their portraits and the factory and mine workers toiling away from dawn to dusk just to put food on the table and wake up the next day to do it again. I decided to take the portrait photos of Sellins, overlap the two of contrasting ages and take a more traditional approach. I imagined holding her in as high of esteem as any rich daughter or wife at the time who never had to work a day in their life. I believed she deserved as much consideration of beauty and representation as those women.” At the end of this blog you can see my conversation with Lindsay in separate segments, and some images that connect her to this vibrant history, which should not be forgotten. We also remind folks of the two previous major works that Lindsay has done for us. Fannie was often compared to Mother Jones in her lifetime, and was inspired by Jones. Like Mother Jones, she organized the miners’ wives and children, braved the company thugs, and organized across the color line that so divided the working class in this era. Fannie had started with the United Mine Workers in West Virginia and was arrested for defying an injunction against going near the mining camps in order to support strikers in Colliers West Virginia coal strike. The judge admonished her “not to emulate Mother Jones.” After her death, Mother Jones commented that every time she remembered Fannie, she thought about how that bludgeoned body might have been hers, too. But Lindsay’s art recalls Fannie’s spirit where she began her journey as a union organizer, in St. Louis. She has been mostly forgotten there, and our project will bring her back to attention and put her at the center of a story that recreates the fight for a living wage for the women of the garment industry there. A thoroughly Irish woman from the Kerry Patch area of St. Louis, she was a widow at a young age with four children, working at Marx and Haas, where the men were organized in the United Garment Workers local. That was a union mostly attentive to the skilled male workers, but beginning in 1906, women sought to make it over into a union for them as well. They were taking on not just a garment sweatshops, but the center of power base of anti-unionism in St. Louis. Marx and Haas was at the leader of the Citizens Industrial Association, the anti-union employers association that used the law of injunction and the police as their tools. Marx and Haas decided to become the base of confronting the union movement. Workers in the garment industry were burdened with tuberculosis and many had to go to work even when they were deathly ill. Fannie took the leadership role of the women after another Irish-American woman, Hannah Hennessey, died from tuberculosis. Workers took direct action in 1909 against the company’s refusal to allow a man with tuberculosis the use of an elevator, and forced him to walk six flights of stairs. They demanded use of the elevators for all workers. Marx and Haas locked the union out and declared it would remain and open shop (refuse to recognize the union as the bargaining agent). Fannie sought to unite men and women, and the many ethnic groups--11 nationalities--and their meetings were conducted in five languages. Fannie was served with an injunction that banned her and the unionists from coming near Marx & Haas for 99 years; the police were used as a strikebreaking agency. Fannie appealed to Illinois unionists first, going with Socialist Party members to Livingston, Illinois where she succeeded in getting the United Mine Workers local there to assess every member in order to sustain the Marx & Haas strike. This started her off on a tour through Illinois, then Iowa, and eventually across the country to ask for boycott support and assistance. She and fellow garment worker Kate Hurley were dubbed “fiery” speakers who convinced many trade unionists to stop buying the work cloths Marx and Haas produced. They won a contract after a 25 month lockout. It was a roaring success to bring down the leader of the CIA. Fannie joined the Socialist Party, and that association affected her views of the connection between unionism and the possibilities that workers could transform all of society. This was also the path that Mother Jones has taken, where her trade union organizing was connected to radical visions. It was this experience in St. Louis that brought her into the United Mine Workers orbit, and sometime in 1913 when she was traveling in the Pittsburgh area to promote support for another strike against the garment industry in St. Louis, she visited a mining family on strike in nearby Colliers, West Virginia, and was so compelled by the awful conditions, that she started organizing. We are working to produce an exhibit at the St. Louis Public Library, a historical marker at 13th & Washington in St. Louis, (which is a National Historic Landmark) and a mural. (More on the mural in a future post). COVID-19 has delayed the rollout for this, but we wanted to debut Lindsay’s art as a way of introducing the project. And we need to ask you to consider a contribution. While the Government of Ireland funded Lindsay’s art, we need to raise over $3000 to cover other costs not funded. Donate Page The images above include some newspaper articles and an image of Fannie Sellins in prison in West Virginia. She was in prison there while Mother Jones was imprisoned in Colorado , in 1914. Others show how industrialists charged that investigation of Sellins' murder was part of a red menace influenced by foreign ideas. They suggested that the murder was justified because she was rioting.. Research assistance for the project was provided by Northern Illinois University student Emma Barton-Norris, who was funded through an NIU Engaged Learning opportunity. Here are segments of a conversation with Lindsay Hall, talking about the art. We are proud to work with her as a collaborator for our project. And below, I give a little bit of Sellins background. Please note that I meant Alle-kiska, not Alliquippa as the area where she was killed. This is the third major piece that Lindsay has commissioned for us. This magnificent piece is in the Irish American Heritage Center's permanent exhibit The first piece she created, below, was commissioned for the Mother Jones Museum in Mt. Olive, but was relocated to St. Louis after our exhibits were removed from Mt. Olive's museum. We will be placing this in the St. Louis Library Exhibit soon.
- Coal Miner's Day and New Beginnings
Today is October 12th, Coal Miners Day. It used to be a big deal in Illinois, a day of commemoration when thousands of miners took a day off from work, joining their families to celebrate the heritage of mine community unionism. It marked the day when miners were killed in Virden, Illinois fighting the Chicago coal empire that sought to defeat the unions established during the living wage strike of 1897. By the end of that day in October 1898, 13 were killed, but they had stopped the designs of the Chicago-Virden Coal Company barons. You can read a little more about it here. The cemetery owner at Mt. Olive didn’t like the idea of the commemorations, so in 1899, the bodies of the miners from Mt. Olive who died in that battle were disinterred and re-buried in the the Union Miners Cemetery of the United Mine Workers local, and from that point on, the union established rituals and commemorations that built a sense of union heritage and rebellion in the southern regions of Illinois. It’s a story that isn’t much known anymore, but was part of a folk heritage elaborated on in a confusing way since the mines in the area have closed down. Union Miners Cemetery was a unique place, a site of a “spirit-thread” of history. Later, Mother Jones asked to be buried in the cemetery, with the notion that by doing so she would use her fame to ask people to remember the ordinary men and women who built unionism in Illinois and the United States. At the time, 40,000 people attended her funeral. Mother Jones was a folk hero at the time. She fought for democratic, inclusive unionism, the kind able to build a new civilization based on the worth of every human being, males and females, white and black, citizen and non-citizen, waged and unwaged labor. That’s our purpose too–to not only recover the struggles associated with Mother Jones, but to remember the ordinary people who contributed to making history. And to think about the struggles for power that were at the heart of mine community unionism. These communities deserve more than the dustbin of history, living in a secondary status because power resides at the top. Most of them struggle to survive as coal is mined with less labor or the mines have shut down. The Mother Jones Foundation in Springfield, Illinois has kept the day alive since 1984, long after most of the coal miners who had vivid memories of the origins of the day were gone. Last week folks gathered for the commemoration (and miners in earllier times didn’t always commemorate on the exact date). “Pray for the Dead, and Fight Like Hell for the Living,” we proclaimed, following Mother Jones’ famous words. I find it fitting that we launch this new website and our effort to make a museum in Mt. Olive Illinois, where the Union Miners Cemetery is now a national historic place, 115 years after the first commemoration. Our project seeks to remember this history, to think about its relevance to the present. We seek to establish a museum in Mt. Olive, as well as labor trails that would go from Pullman, where Mother Jones got her start, down to southern Illinois which was devastated by the decline in coal mining, but which is roiled by some of the same issues of lack of economic and resource control that roiled people in the era in which people rebelled more than a century ago. For now, we invite you to explore what is there. Click all of the drop down menus to see what we have posted.
- The Spirit of Two Irish Rebelwomen, 1918 & 2018
One hundred years ago, Mother Jones and Irish feminist rebel Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington spoke at a what was considered a subversive meeting in San Francisco, on a mission to free an Irish-American labor activist. War had created revolutionary stirrings across the globe. These women, both born in County Cork, carried on in a rebel tradition. This year their memories will be joined in two events in Ireland. It was my pleasure to meet Hanna’s granddaughter Micheline at the Chicago Irish American Heritage Center last fall, and see how much the rebel spirit of her grandmother is with her. Micheline is a retired Galway botanist who took on university discrimination against women; she sees it as her duty to pass the torch along. Micheline was touring the U.S. in a whirlwind retracing of Hanna’s campaign for Ireland’s independence a century ago. She brought a small film crew with her; you can learn a little more about that project here. Earlier this year, Micheline sought to put women back into the celebration of the Irish independence by reenacting one of the more dramatic moments of her mother’s activism in the suffrage campaign. Left: : Micheline studies some of the exhibit displays from Cork at the Irish American Heritage Center, Chicago, Illinois, October 2017. “I wonder if Hanna and Mother Jones met,” she asked. Credit: Eddie Mullarkey One of the first questions Micheline asked me, on seeing the exhibit on Mother Jones at the Irish American Heritage center, was, “did they meet?” I didn’t know but speculated that the campaign to free Tom Mooney would have been one way they would have met up. I did a bit of research and checked my archive of materials, and sure enough, found at least this instance. First, a little information about how Mother and Hanna shared the stage. Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington was on a tour of the U.S. to publicize the cause of free Ireland. She spoke to packed audiences across the United States. Two years before, her pacifist husband had been brutally assassinated in the Easter Rising. Hanna and her husband Frank were also close friends of Mother Jones’ friend, James Connolly, and they had participated in the 1913 Dublin workers lockout/uprising. Like Connolly, she connected workers issues with the struggle for a republic. And Connolly was influenced by her and her husband to include women’s suffrage in the proposed constitution for the new republic. But in this case, she sought to join the cause of labor’s political prisoners who were also Mother Jones’ special cause. Above: Tom Mooney, 1882-1942. Photo ca. 1910, from Wikipedia commons. Tom Mooney’s name isn’t well known today, but in the period from World War I to World War II, he was a household name to labor activists. He was the most famous political prisoner in the U.S. Mother Jones had always liked this Irish-American socialist labor militant, very much indeed. Mooney, like her, sought to use labor organizing to take on entrenched power structures. He had organized the International Workers Defense League to help workers with legal assistance when arrested during strikes; Mother Jones loved the idea, and thought it held a key to a more militant labor movement. Above: Beating the Drums of War. Here is a war preparedness ad during WWI. “Only the strong are safe.”' Mooney’s talent as a labor organizer made him the target of the power structure of San Francisco. After a bomb exploded and killed 10 people and injured 40 more during a 1916 war preparedness parade, business leaders saw an opportunity to get rid of the most effective labor organizer in the area and helped to frame him for the deaths with perjured testimony. San Francisco preparedness parade. A bomb killed 10 people and injured more than 40 when it was thrown at the parade. Above: San Francisco preparedness parade. A bomb killed 10 people and injured more than 40 when it was thrown at the parade. By 1918, Jones, Eugene Debs, and others were fighting to save Mooney from the hangman’s noose. Official labor leaders were slow to take up the fight. The American Federation of Labor decision to go all out for war fever meant they sought distance from radicals. Mother Jones had shifted from a strong anti-militarism to mild endorsement of the war effort, but she supported the cause of labor militants like Mooney, and constantly was condemned for stirring up strikes in wartime. She was one of the most tireless speakers on Mooney’s behalf after he was sentenced. Above: Handbill for the Mooney meeting. Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington was a heroine of Irish suffrage movement and the Irish rebellion. Credit: Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington The meeting at which Mother and Hanna spoke, in fact, was part of a huge international outcry that likely saved Mooney’s life, but failed to win his release. Mooney languished in jail until 1939, when another World War was underway. He was so sick from his prison experience that he never recovered and dies in 1942. A massive funeral for him was held at the same auditorium where Mother and Hanna spoke. Above: Meeting Advertisement, Oakland Tribune, April 15, 1918. Drawing wartime patriotism to their cause, the meeting sponsors sought make it seem as though they were patriotic by supporting the President’s judgment that condemned labor leader Tom Mooney should be given a new trial. Wilson was pressured by labor to show that the country was not an autocratic government that used repression to send labor activists to their death. But while he saved Mooney from hanging, Wilson’s government was sending intelligence agents to track the speakers. The meeting at San Francisco Auditorium featured two County Cork women together in defense of Tom Mooney, Irish American labor activist who faced the death penalty. President Wilson, facing a public outcry, had actually publicly questioned the fairness of the trial. Wilson was trying to keep labor in his pro-war camp. It wasn’t working too well. Wilson, in a highly unusual intervention, soon helped to get the sentence commuted to life imprisonment. The goal of the meeting, though, was a new trial, which was denied. The newspaper reports on this 1918 meeting seem designed to diminish both Mother and Hanna. Wars are sometimes the handmaiden of revolutions, but they are also the justification for terrific suppression of dissent. Both were occurring in the cauldron of the professed war for democracy; fear of real democracy was the main concern of business and government. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Hanna refused to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner, and that people left when they couldn’t hear Mother’s voice, a voice renowned for decades as carrying across large crowds. You can see the article here. Above: Newspaper account of the April 16, 2018 event differs from a military intelligence report account. Comparing the two makes it doubtful that Mother had lost her voice. Credit: San Francisco Chronicle, April 17, 1918 Standing in stunned observation at the meeting, however, was a War Department Military Intelligence Division surveillance agent, who reported another version of that meeting. Lieutenant Rolin G. Watkins wrote back to Washington D. C. that Mother Jones spoke for a very long time to an audience that was as captivated as ever by her, until she took on the subject of the military and its use against U.S. workers. Watkins recommended that the U.S. government and local authorities prevent Jones from ever speaking again.* The April 1918 Mooney meeting led U.S. security forces to escalate their efforts to derailing both women’s effectiveness. Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington strongly doubts that her grandmother refused to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner. After all, her tour was meant to gain U.S. support for Irish independence. Micheline writes, “I think it was support for the Mooney that resulted in Hanna losing favour in the city.” Micheline notes that “the day after the event, Hanna again filled the huge Dreamland Auditorium where she had drawn huge crowds in 1917. But a week later, she was arrested for speaking against the British plan for conscription in Ireland and shortly after, the Dreamland Auditorium was refused her.” Above: Dr. Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium location of the great Tom Mooney meeting April 2018. Credit: Donagh McKeown Above: Undated photo of the interior of the Civic Auditorium, which was filled for the Tom Mooney event in 1918. Mooney’s memorial in 1942 filled the auditorium again. He had languished in prison for 2 decades. We don’t know whether this was the only meeting of these two women. But we do know that others joined them together in their memory. Mother Jones was joined with Hanna in R.M. Fox’s 1935 book, Rebel Irishwomen. While most people knew little of Mother Jones before the Cork festival revived her memory, R. M. Fox, a historian of the Irish left, collected the stories of Irish woman who he believed merited the designation of “rebel.” Fox was married to Cork-born children’s author Patricia Lynch. Fox’s depiction of Hanna emphasizes her bravery, her steely determination, both characteristics that he also associated with Mother Jones. Hanna faced down soldiers and bayonets, just like Mother did, with that Cork rebel spirit. This year, Mother Jones and Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington will be joined again when Dublin’s GPO Witness History Museum is hosting a series of lectures on the Irish Women who were included in R. M. Fox’s book. I am proud to represent Mother in this series, though I don’t know if I’ll be able to deliver it in person. This year, the Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Festival has invited Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington to be a speaker at their event. I am proud to have done my part in bringing Micheline to Cork. * Thanks to Ger O’Mahony and Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington for information used in this blog. Ger pointed me back to Elliott Gorn’s book on Mother Jones for the military surveillance record. As always Gorn’s book is packed with goodies. Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington’s chapter in Rebel Irishwomen Mother Jones chapter in R.M. Fox’s Rebel Irishwomen
- Mother Jones and the Mexican Revolution
#noborders for justice for Mother Jones, who supported the Mexican Revolution. Thanks to Frosso Tsouka director of the great film about Greeks in Colorado Coalfield Strike http://ludlow.gr/. She visited the Yuma Arizona Territorial Prison and found an exhibit that included Mother and her efforts to draw attention to the imprisoned anarchist Magon brothers, Mexican revolutionaries. Mother Jones launched a campaign to free them.She sent us these images from her visit. We've posted it on our mapping Mother Jones LINK ON OUR WEBSITE ht The prison museum IS HERE:: http://www.yumaprison.org/notable-inmates.html Yuma prison entrance Mexican Revolutionary Ricardo Magon. Mother Jones sought to draw attention to their cause. Display Yuma Prison Museum
- Kate Klimut & Jim Schoppman Bring Talent, Commitment & Heritage To Mother Jones Museum Project
Early this year, Marc Albrecht, an old friend from St. Louis and an Illinois Education Association representative for Mt. Olive, contacted me to suggest I contact Kate Klimut and Jim Schoppman, who I knew mainly though Marc when we all lived in St. Louis. Little could I have imagined what has resulted from renewing an acquaintance with these two. The museum board is now proud to announce that Kate and Jim have joined our creative team and that Kate has joined our board. They both bring a passion for this history, direct family connections to the story, and multiple talents. Both of their family’s histories are connected to Mother Jones and mining in Southern Illinois. They grew up hearing about Mother Jones and knowing that miners had played an important role in organizing the union movement in the United States. Kate remembers being taught about Mother Jones, the work of women in coal mining conflicts, and the Battle of Virden in Carlinville schools, where teachers instilled a sense that miners and their families, including the women and children, had been a force in history. She also learned to think of the home in Carlinville that was an important part of the Underground Railroad, and for her, this communicated a sense that ordinary people could be a force in history. Keep in mind, she says, little labor history was then—or now—usually taught in the schools. Not so in this area of the country, where the miners culture built the first teachers unions as well. Left: Kate Klimut, 2015 Kate’s family were Ukrainian and Hungarian immigrants who came to the US in the early part of the twentieth century. “My maternal grandfather, John Hurzon, first came to Pennsylvania but migrated to the West Frankfort area of Illinois,” where immigrant militancy was part of daily life. Her grandfather, she says with a chuckle, “was a Commie” in Benld, where various strains of radicalism coexisted with devotion to church and ethnic organizations. “My daddy, a union airline pilot, taught me never to cross a picket line,” a direct result from his miners’ heritage and his own experience. She treasures other values she learned from her family. Kate remembers as a young girl driving to Missouri with her maternal grandmother Helen Klimut, who lived in a small village of Hettick Illinois in Macoupin County. Helen made it a point to show Kate a segregated drinking fountain, pointed to it, and told her “that is so wrong!” When Kate met Jim at her workplace years ago, and she learned he was connected to a mining family in the Mt. Olive area, she knew he was a “good guy” with working class roots. Both of them still think of themselves as “an extended part of the Mount Olive community and want to give back by honoring the global message of Mother Jones acting as a fighter who loved humanity. We believe in being open in our assistance with this project.” Jim grew up in Florissant, Missouri, but visited his maternal grandparents Clarence and Edith Engelman in Mt. Olive. He heard stories about Mother Jones while traversing the cemeteries to learn directly the stories of his ancestors. Clarence was a standard bearer at Mother Jones funeral, an honor given to families directly connected to the origins of Union Miners cemetery and the battle at Virden. His great grandfather, Mike Engelman, was a survivor of the Virden conflict in 1898, going to the scene to confront the Thiel detective agents and Chicago policemen who armed themselves and built stockades to defeat the new union in 1898. He later became a teamster. Another of Jim’s relatives include Edward Fletcher, an English miner by the age of 11, whose death testifies to the casual way that tragedy was an everyday part of the miners’ life. Edward, his great great maternal grandfather, died when he was grinding an ax in a mine in Collinsville, Illinois; the spinning emery wheel broke and according to a newspaper story in Jim’s possession, resulted in “knocking his brains out and killing him almost instantly.” The family then depended on the male children to go down in the pits for survival. Above: Mike Engelman, Jim’s maternal grandfather, was one of the survivors of the 1898 Virden conflict. These brutal stories, and the militant determination of the miners to secure their rights, were all part of a thread that was communicated in personal stories. Kate did the graphic art work for this museum windows display. The banner is a newly discovered quotation through Rosemary Feurer's research, and the photo and other research for the display is also by Rosemary. Kate believes that the “story of Mother Jones is a wonderful piece of history, and now, more than ever, it needs to be told.” As she works in St. Louis with immigrant refugees, she tells them that one hundred years ago, her family faced some of the same prejudices and yet shaped the history of the United States. They, like her ancestors, are worried today, “but eager for democracy.” Jim can’t think of a better contribution to make to ensuring that the history is remembered and demonstrated in the museum and beyond. Above: Jim designed the easel for the museum displays. Over the past year, they have both been drawn to the project, first helping us with the May Day event, then finally committing to more extensive planning, graphic design, and event planning. They bring decades of work as graphic artists. Jim is planning to help us with museum display cases. He learned the craft of woodworking and has produced extraordinary pieces that are shown in the gallery of photos here. Already they have created some of the work and planning new materials that will multiply the value of your donations far beyond what would have been otherwise feasible. See the gallery of photos to see what talents they bring to this project. Above: Kate Klimut designed this display along with Rosemary Feurer's caption card on the right. The Museum board members are grateful for Kate and Jim’s volunteer labor of love. They join other board members who are multiplying your contributions. All of the board members have stories to tell about their motivation and perspective, and we hope to bring more of those in future posts. If you are interested in volunteering from near or far, or have a story to tell, we’d love to hear from you. Maybe you have a family story that you could tell? Maybe you will donate to our museum history makers wall to reinforce the volunteer contributions? Kate with the mug and poster she designed.
- Mother Jones Keeps Travelling for Justice
Mother Jones Keeps travelling for justice, but we still are fundraising for a generator--help us raise $500 m Roofers Apprenticeship Training Loyola GEO strike Chicago Symphony Strike Chicago Symphony Strike UIC GEO strike
- United Mind Workers: SIU-E faculty celebrate their new union at Mother Jones Monument
On Labor Day, core organizers of the new faculty union at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville came to the Mother Jones monument in Mt. Olive to commemorate and celebrate (yes, with the traditional Irish whiskey) their achievement: they filed with the Labor Board this week for their new union. (Edwardsville is around 20 miles from Mt. Olive.) Kim Archer, a music professor and key organizer of the union effort, took inspiration from these past struggles as she and other professors have experienced anti-union attacks in recent days. We are inspired that these “United Mind Workers” sought out this monument to honor the past as they seek to change the possibilities for their future, and the future of their students. SIUE core organizers of the new faculty union. Kim Archer, music professor at SIUE faculty union president and Interim President with Dave Vitoff, Illinois Education Association staff member and organizer. Solidarity Forever! To learn more about the issues of the SIUE faculty organizing, see these articles: SIUE tenure-track faculty files paperwork to unionize Sept 6 SIUE faculty files with state for union recognition – St. Louis Business Journal Sept 6
- Women of Labor at Mother Jones Monument
Since 2015, Mother Jones has become a growing part of the Regina V. Polk Women’s Leadership Conference, one of the great educational experiences available to emerging women labor activists in Illinois, the Midwest and beyond. I was happy to be invited to be a part of this by Director Emily LaBarbera Twarog. She, along with co-director Stephanie Seawell Fortado, Judy Ancel and Leah Fried, Latisa Kindred and others bring heart and soul for this school. Emily and Stephanie have recently joined the board of the Mother Jones Heritage Project. A Polk School alumna, Judy Simpson, is also on the board of the Project. Mother Jones calls women to see a tradition of struggle while they face the future. I was thrilled when Emily said that the Mother Jones part of the education has been consistently the highlight of the schools. This year I was able to see the women perform Mother Jones, as well as learn and reflect on her meaning for today. The event was held at the monument. I constructed a speech from fragments of Mother Jones’ speeches pieced together. Much of it not been previously published, but the words are all from her. This was a heartfelt version of it by these women! This was followed by the women presenting 40 quotations from Mother Jones. Some of these are also newly discovered quotes. Mother Jones’ words, the participants agree, still resonate and call to us. Some of the others, including my favorite, “I am an organizer, an agitator, and aggravator. I act because I love humanity.” was one that I uncovered in 2014 and has become more well-known since it was placed on the monument donors’ kiosk. The tradition of bringing wreaths to the Monument was revived by the Mother Jones Foundation in the 1980s. The one that Polk School brought is one of the loveliest and largest I’ve seen. Women wrote messages on the wreath to communicate their connections to this story. Wreath for Mother Jones Monument. Wreath for Mother Jones Monument. This is a clip of what some of the women telling us what they wrote. Here are some more photos of Mother Jones and the Polk School women. Photo Credit: Emily LaBarbera Twarog More than 40 women attended the school. Let Us Rise!