Mother Jones for the 2019 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parades.
For the very first time, the Mother Jones Heritage Project committee has been invited to participate in the Chicago St Patrick’s Day parades.
The Illinois based committee has commissioned a new Mother Jones Banner especially for the parade and this banner will include a reference to her origins in Cork. Included also will be a 10 foot inflatable Mother Jones, while emigrant Brigid Duffy will march dressed appropriately as Mother Jones herself.
The St Patrick’s Day parades in Chicago on Saturday 16th March and Sunday 17th are among the largest in the world with hundreds of thousands taking part. A million watch the event on Chicago TV while the Chicago River will turn green along with a number of prominent public buildings.
In welcoming this exciting development, Mr. James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee stated,
“This is a further example of the growing international recognition of Cork born Mary Harris/ Mother Jones’s contribution to the wider trade union and labour movements in the United States of America.
We are delighted that Chicago has decided to include Mother Jones for the first time and we hope it will become an annual feature of the parade. All Cork people in and around Chicago are asked to support and assist the Heritage Project group at the parade.
We congratulate the massive work being done on behalf of Mother Jones by this committee led by Rosemary Feurer, whose members regularly attend the Spirit of Mother Jones festival here in Cork.”
According to Rosemary Feurer of the Heritage Project
“We are thrilled that Chicago St Patrick’s Day parade committee was enthusiastic about highlighting Mother Jones and we are excited about continuing to work with our friends in Cork, who helped to spark our own project.”
Mother Jones has several connections to Chicago, the Windy City. Following the loss of her four children and husband in the Memphis Yellow Fever epidemic of 1867, Mary Harris, a seamstress went to Chicago and opened a clothing shop on Washington Street. However on the night of 8th October 1871, much of the city was burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire along with Mary’s business premises. Mary was made destitute and had to start all over again.
Some 34 years later in 1905, as Mother Jones, she attended the inaugural planning meeting of the historically famous Industrial Workers of the World (IWW – The Wobblies) in Chicago, she was the only woman present at this meeting and was the very first signature on the subsequent IWW Manifesto.
Mary Harris was also very influenced by the Haymarket Square incidents in Chicago on 4th May 1886 and its aftermath which saw the execution of the Haymarket Four.
These events are commemorated each year in Chicago on 1st May and has led to the annual celebration of May Day as an international labour holiday.
As Mother Jones, she declared May 1st as her birthday, a symbolic act, attributed by her biographer Elliott Gorn as perhaps the day she was born into the labour movement.