2014 Festival line-up begins to take shape

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It’s that time of year again folks and the Cork Mother Jones committee are busy preparing the final line-up of speakers and performers for the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival which will take-in an extended programme from Sunday, 27th July to Friday, 1st August 2014 as part of Cork City’s official Mother Jones Week.

Over the coming weeks we will introduce our performers to give a taste of what’s to come.   We start with Jim Green who will deliver the 3rd Annual “Mother Jones Lecture” at the Firkin Crane, Shandon at 7.30pm on Tuesday, 29th January.

Professor James Green is a writer, teacher and activist. He is professor of History at the University of Massachusetts where he founded the Labour Studies BA degree program and the Labour Resource Centre; he currently teaches history and directs the public history graduate program. He has had a long and distinguished career in ensuring that the history of social movements such as trade unions, civil rights groups and community empowerment groups is detailed and their stories told.

He was born in Oak Park, Illinois and raised in Carpentersville, a small factory town outside of Chicago and educated at Northwestern University.

He is the author of five history books on labour and protest movements in America and he is working on the story of Mother Jones the West Virginia mine wars which will be published by Grove Atlantic. The book will be the basis of a television documentary film for the Public Broadcasting System to air as part of the award-winning American Experience series. He also teaches courses on the history of Boston, working class history and a course on Social Justice.

Originally inspired by John F Kennedy and later by Martin Luther King, Jim Green admired politicians such as senators Paul Douglas, Eugene McCarthy (he worked for his Primary campaign) and George McGovern.

He earned a PhD in history from Yale University in 1972.He had played an active part in the student and anti-war movements in the late 60s and early 70s. He had developed an interest in social movements and sought ways through his scholarship to bring their stories to a wider public.

In his website jamesgreenworks.com, Jim describes how “four experiences offered me stimulating opportunities to practice history in the world outside the academy: first, living and working in a contested neighbourhood, Boston’s South End; second, participating in the Radical America editorial collective; third, teaching in England and discovering the History Workshop movement and four, joining the faculty at the College of Public and Community Service, located within the University of Massachusetts Boston.”

During the 1980s he became very active in the trade union movement where he taught courses for union members such as the United Mine Workers of America as well as lecturing at the Harvard Trade Union program. He helped to make a video with film maker Barbara Kopple of the Pittston Strike in Appalachia in 1989.

In 1995-96 he was a historical consultant to the documentary film “The fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers” produced by Paradigm Productions, San Francisco.

In 1998 he was selected as a Fulbright Senior Scholar and taught at the University of Genoa in Italy. One result of this was the publication of his book “Taking History to Heart” in 2000 which he describes as “a personal and political reflection on making movement history”

Jim has held lectureships at Warwick University in England and at Harvard University, where he has taught in the Trade Union Program since 1987. He has published widely in many international academic journals. In 2002 he was elected president of the Labour and Working Class History Association, and in 2004 he was awarded a fellowship by the Bogilasco Foundation to study and write at the Liguria Study Centre in Italy. In 2009, the Sidney Hillman Foundation presented Professor Green with the Sol Stetin Prize for his accomplishments in the field of labour and working-class history.

He has also had a particular interest in the events at Ludlow in Colorado on 20th April 1914 when children, women and men were massacred and which has become infamous in American labour history. His article entitled “Crime Against Memory at Ludlow” available on his website is particularly powerful.

A further book “Death at the Haymarket” in March 2006 allowed Jim to tell the epic story of the events that took place in Chicago on 1st May 1886, events which had a huge influence on generations of labour and trade union activists around the world including Mary Harris. 20,000 copies of this have been sold and it has been adopted in many college courses.

With almost 50 years of active contribution to the telling and documenting of the history of working class and social movements behind him, Jim is a very welcome and worthy contributor to the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

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