Cork Mother Jones Festival 2020 postponed.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee, wishes, to announce the postponement of the ninth Spirit of Mother Jones Festival (2020), from its original date (29th July-1st Aug), to the final weekend in November. (November 27th -30th).
James Nolan, spokesperson for the festival and summer school stated.
“We are postponing the festival in the interests of the safety of those attending, and those taking part, due to the uncertainty as to the conditions under which it could take place.
We feel the November date allows for more certainty and gives us time to ensure the safety of those attending. It also gives us the option of perhaps using online technology to ensure the festival can go ahead.
Mother Jones died on the 30th November 1930, so we will commemorate the 90th Anniversary of her passing at the forthcoming festival in November.
The fact that in the past week the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins invoked the famous quote of Mother Jones, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” to honour our front line and emergency workers, as an acknowledgement of her role in protecting workers and ensuring decent working conditions for millions of people. Today, thousands around the world still draw inspiration from her work.
Indeed as an indicator or her resilience, it should be remembered that she herself survived three fever pandemics……. the Great Famine here in Cork, the Yellow Fever outbreak in Memphis in 1867, which took her family and the Flu pandemic of 1918/19.” She continued to practice as a nurse in Memphis until the fever outbreak was over.
We also intend to ensure she will be remembered around the period of July/August and closer to the original dates we will see the most practical way to celebrate her birth in Cork.”
The Festival Facebook pages and the website at http://www.motherjonescork.com will continue to update the position.
Picture 1: Mother Jones in 1901.
Picture 2: Joan Goggin, Cork’s own Mother Jones (Courtesy of Andy Jay).
Picture 3: March of the Mill Children, in Shandon, in 2019 (Courtesy of Claire Stack).
Picture 4: Mother Jones, meeting, President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge.

President of Ireland in tribute to the brave workers in the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael D Higgins

 

President of Ireland in tribute to the brave workers in the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Michael D Higgins recalls the battle cry of Mother Jones and the motto that lies at the heart of
International Workers Commemoration Day..

“Remember the death and fight like hell for the living”

Click here

Mother Jones May Day We Shall Rise Party

Join our live celebration on zoom. WE SHALL RISE!
Preregister at link recommended. Join Sara Nelson (AFA/CWA), Cecil Roberts (UMWA) & Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S., Brian Obrien, Ireland’s consul general for Chicago & Midwest.& MORE !
Toasts from Cork Ireland, Mother Jones’ birthplace & Mother Jones
Monument, Mt. Olive Illinois.
Learn about our MJ Chicago sculpture
project in Chicago from our artists.
Registration recommended. We’ll give the live meeting info on the day of the meeting

Recommend you register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUudeiuqz4jGtJDDe7kzRBgt59G

 

zoom poster

John Jefferies

John Jefferies ((C) Richard)It is with great sadness that we announce the death of John Jefferies, a founding member of the Cork Mother Jones Committee. John passed away at his residence in Cobh on February 10th 2020.
John was a member of our committee since 2011 and managed the Spirit of Mother Jones festival
website and Facebook pages. His knowledge of history, heritage, politics and people was quite extraordinary and his meticulous research and understanding of public and community history was unsurpassed.
Like Mother Jones, from whom he took much inspiration, John spoke for the underdogs in society and supported social justice and human rights issues.
At the 2015 festival he highlighted the important role of Cobh born, union organiser, Jack Dowling. In 2017 he published his book Death on the Pier …the Cobh Pier Head Shooting and the Story of the Moon Car.
John’s contribution to the work of this committee laid the foundations for many festivals. He focused on the history and story of ordinary working people and the trade union movement.
On behalf of the Cork Mother Jones Committee we wish to express our sympathy to his family and friends.

 

John Jefferies

Mother Jones….. US National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mother Jones…..National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mary “Mother Jones” photographed in 1901

On September 14, 2019 Mother Jones was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado.

According to its website….

“The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is a monument to the memory of the men and women who pioneered the discovery, development, and processing of our nation’s natural resources. Our mission is to “tell the story of mining, its people, its importance to the American public, and to society’s sustainability.”  Known as the “Smithsonian of the Rockies” and the “Premier Showcase of American Mining” the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum houses 25,000 square feet of interactive and informative exhibits sharing the evolving narrative of mining and its relationship to our everyday lives.”

Mother Jones is Inductee 248.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum at Leadville, Colorado, USA

Her induction citation read as follows;

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is one of the most famous labor activists in the cause of economic justice. Her battle cry, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” truly said it all.  Her powerful speeches and knack for theatrics encouraged many to form unions and strike for fair wages and safe working conditions. Known as the “Miner’s Angel” for her advocacy on their behalf, Mother Jones’s activism set the stage for the labor and safety laws we all benefit from today. A champion of the working class, she organized numerous miners’ strikes against low pay, 12-hour days, 7-day work weeks, extreme mortality rates, and child labor, and railed against the servitude of company stores and company housing.  When she began organizing for the United Mine Workers Union in the 1890s, it had 10,000 members; within a few years, 300,000 men had joined.  Hearing Jones speak, you discovered the secret of her influence – she had force, she had wit, and above all she had the fire of indignation. Mother Jones’s impassioned work is recognized in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, U.S. Department of Labor’s Hall of Honors, and the Irish American Hall of Fame. 

The historian and sociologist James Loewen (Author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your High School History Textbook Got Wrong) criticised the National Mining Hall of Fame a few years ago for inducting mostly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant men, who were disproportionately engineers, executives and wealthy mine owners. Where were the miners, Loewen asked, where the immigrants and workers of colour, the labour organisers, the women.  Why was there no commemoration to the thousands who died in the mines?

Mother Jones biographer Prof Elliot Gorn at last year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork, Ireland

Elliott Gorn, author of Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, who spoke at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork in 2019 stated

 

The Mining Hall of Fame has become a bit more inclusive in recent years, a little more attuned to worker exploitation, safety and environmental issues.  Hopefully, the inclusion of Mother Jones signals that the Hall of Fame will continue to pay more attention to the issues she long agitated about.”

Mother Jones visits Calumet, Michigan in August 1913

Mother Jones arrives at Calumet, Michigan in August 1913.

Mother Jones visits Calumet, Michigan in August 1913.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is very grateful to Jeremiah Mason, Archivist of the National Parks Service, Lake Superior Collection Management Centre at Keweenaw National Historical Park at Calumet in Michigan for providing the Cork Mother Jones Committee with a collection of five photographs of Mother Jones.

These show her arriving and taking part in a march in the town of Calumet in August 1913 to support an ongoing strike by the copper miners of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM).

Mother Jones greeted bylarge crowds as she arrives by car with local strike leaders

These photos from August 1913 show the sense of excitement, expectation and colour in the town at the arrival of 76 year old Mother Jones. She is surrounded by male union leaders and local dignitaries. The look of wonder in some of the workers standing close to Mother Jones gives the impression of the legendary status and reverence in which she is held by miners. Mother Jones herself appears very serious and quietly determined amidst the phalanx of union men. She addressed the workers later at a mass meeting in the town.

Mother Jones (in car) leads march of strikers through Calumet, Michigan, August 1913

The wider context of these rare photos (in addition to the earlier Michigan Technological University photos on this site) is even more important as 1913/14 was the period of the Coal Wars and of frenetic activity by Mother Jones, who was at the height of her fame. Earlier in 1913, she had been very active in the West Virginia miner strikes, which had turned violent.

Mother Jones arrives with union leaders

Mother Jones was arrested by the military, court-martialled and jailed. Detained from 12th February until 8th May 1913, she was as defiant as ever when released and continued working to support the miners, addressing a meeting at Carnegie Hall in New York on 27th May 1913.

Following this August visit to Calumet, she proceeded to Colorado to actively support the United Mine Workers of America in the year long strike. During this period she was deported by the militia from Trinidad, Colorado and imprisoned twice, for a two month period and later for 23 days in          Walsenburg in appalling conditions in a dark basement cell.

On release she made speeches in Boston, New York, Washington, Seattle and British Colombia and even found time to travel south to El Paso on the Mexican border to prevent the introduction of scab labour from Mexico. She testified in Washington before House Committee on Mines and Mining.

While she was in Washington, the massacre at Ludlow on April 20th 1914 took place.  Women and children were burned to death following the local militia setting fire to the miners tent colony established during the strike.

Over 70 people died during and after Ludlow and President Woodrow Wilson dispatched Federal troops to the region to prevent civil war breaking out. Mother Jones had called for the Federal Government to take over the mines. This was rejected by President Wilson, who subsequently made proposals to settle the strikes, she urged the miners to accept the proposals.

Mother Jones (seated in car) leads the parade in support of striking copper miners

Mother Jones, although by then almost 77 years old worked constantly to assist and provide support to “her boys”. She had attained legendary status among workers everywhere and was feared by the authorities and mine owners.

These photos show the huge impact of her arrival to help the union in “Copper Country”.

Our thanks to Jeremiah Mason and all at Calumet.

The photographs are courtesy of the National Parks Service, Lake Superior Collection Management Centre at Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet.

 

 

 

 

Presentation by Irish Consul in Chicago to Mother Jones Heritage group

Presentation by Irish Vice Consul in Chicago to the Mother Jones Statue Campaign committee of the Mother Jones Heritage Project.

We attach a report from the Mother Jones Heritage Project.

“Our Mother Jones Chicago statue sculpture fundraising is off to a glorious start. Proud to accept a generous check from Sara Keating, Vice Consul General of Ireland for Chicago and the Midwest today for $36,000 for this project as a kick start, from their Emigrant Support Programme grant program. We worked hard to have a chance at this grant.  We need to raise a lot more, though (more details soon), but this is going to happen.

Presentation by Irish Consul

Left to right, members of the statue committee: Helen Ramirez-Odell, Brigid Duffy, Elliott Gorn, Vice-consul Keating, Rosemary Feurer, David J. Rathke, Margaret Fulkerson.

We are building our committee and will update.

This project has wings!! We will be sharing more news and specifics in a future newsletter. Please let us know if you want to help.

We also received $9700 funding for our grant application from the Irish Emigrant Support Program, for a St Louis-based project on Fannie Sellins, the Irish-American labor organizer who was murdered 100 years ago. Fannie was Mother Jones’ comrade, and she got her start in the Women’s Trade Union League of St. Louis.  We’ll be updating on that later as well.”

The Cork Mother Jones Committee wish the organisers well in their fundraising efforts to erect a fitting monument to Mother Jones in the City of Chicago and urge anyone interested to support their great efforts.