Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, Secretary of Labour nominee

Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, has been nominated by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden as Secretary of Labour.

The news reports that Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Chicago since 2014, whose parents were from Co Galway, has been nominated by President elect Joe Biden to be his Secretary of Labour has been welcomed by the Cork Mother Jones Committee. If  Mayor Walsh is confirmed he would be the first union member to be Secretary of Labour in almost 50 years. He originally joined the Labourer’ Union local 223, eventually becoming president. Later he led the Boston Building Trade Council.


According to Jim Nolan spokesperson for the Committee.


“Back at the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, the recently elected Mayor Walsh took the trouble to send a wonderful message of support for the festival. The letter was delivered and presented to the Cork Mother Jones Committee on behalf of Mayor Walsh by the late Professor James Green, of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, who spoke at the 2014 festival. We were absolutely delighted at the time that the Mayor of Boston had recognised the Spirit of Mother Jones festival in Shandon in such a manner and was so forthright in praising our efforts to obtain due recognition for Cork-born labour hero Mother Jones.”

Jim Nolan


In his letter  dated July 25th 2014, Mayor Walsh thanked the Cork Mother Jones Committee “for honouring her powerful legacy” and went on to say “like Mother Jones we must abide wherever there is a fight against wrong”.


All at the festival were very appreciative of this letter which detailed the Mayor’s efforts over many years to support workers’ rights.


This is an extract from Mayor Walsh in his 2014 letter to the Cork Mother Jones Committee,

I know that the simple notion of fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work is far from a simple thing to achieve. Securing justice takes a hard, complex and constant struggle, it takes collective action that is only accomplished through the kind of community building you are doing this weekend in Cork” 

Marty Walsh – Lord Mayor of Boston


In response to the recent news, committee spokesman Jim Nolan issued the following statement:

Mother Jones herself could not have put it better and the Cork Mother Jones Committee proposes to send a letter of congratulations to Marty Walsh on his being nominated to this powerful Secretary of Labour position in the US Government. .”

Jim Nolan

Here is a link to our post about Mayor Walsh’s letter from 2014, which includes his full letter of support for the Festival: https://motherjonescork.com/2014/08/06/greetings-from-the-mayor-of-boston/

John Jefferies RIP

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.

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020 on Cork Community TV

Beginning on Saturday 1st August, the Cork Mother Jones Committee in conjunction with Cork Community TV are making available on television, some of the talks and presentations, which have been delivered at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festivals and Summer Schools since 2012.

The original series of Mother Jones annual lectures, will be shown on Saturday next while during the month of August, further talks delivered over the years at the Summer School will be televised. These will feature Margaret Aspinall, Louise O’Keeffe, Fr. Peter McVerry, Chris Mullin, Anne Twomey and many others.

These are free to view, thanks to Frameworks Films and Cork Community TV, for allowing us to celebrate Mother Jones during August.

The 2020 festival will be held in late November 2020. Further talks and speakers, will be televised during the November Festival.

To see the schedules or tune into the live stream please visit www.corkcommunitytv.ie

Mor tune into Virgin Media Channel 803.

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Cork

Mother Jones Lives.

Some photos of past speakers, throughout the years.

Fr. Peter McVerry at the plaque in 2015.
Louise O’Keeffe receiving the Spirit of Mother Jones Award in 2018 from James Nolan and Ann Piggott of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.
Sue Roberts, Margaret Aspinall, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Catherine Clancy, and Professor Simon Cordery in 2013.
Kaiulani Lee with Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Buttimer in 2012.
Marat Moore, Professor Rosemary Feurer, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Buttimer, and Professor Elliott Gorn in 2012.
Former miner, Marat Moore in 2012.
Warren Davies in 2017.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Mick Finn, with the Mother Jones’, Joan Goggin, Aoife Delaney and Loretta Williams.
Luke Dineen in 2016.
Loretta Williams with Dominic O’Callaghan, Cork Mother Jones Committee in 2018.

Mother Jones Dedication -Film

The Cork Mother Jones Committee received the following film from Saul Schniderman, the person who discovered the site of Mother Jones’ death (1930) in Adelphi, Maryland. The Maryland Historic Trust has placed a marker there, on Powder Mill Road, before the Hillandale Baptist Church.

The film shows the dedication of the Mary Harris “Mother Jones” Elementary School on May 16, 2003. The film was made by Dave Zahren who worked for the Prince George’s County Board of Education, Television Resources division.

To view film Click here
(This YouTube clip will play after one minute.)

“This film celebrates the opening of Mary Harris “Mother Jones” Elementary School in Adelphi, MD, which opened in 2000. The film features footage from the dedication, including interviews from students, faculty, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The film also includes a video shared with the audience on the day of dedicating the school, which includes additional interviews and more background on the school.

The film also features archival footage of Mother Jones, including a rare recording of her voice where she says, “…And I long to see the day when Labor will have the destinies of the nation in her own hands, and she will stand a united force and show the world what the workers can do.”

This film was produced by Prince George’s County Public Schools Office of Television Resources, and donated to the Meany Labor Archive by Mother Jones historian Saul Schniderman, also featured in the film.”

The Mary Harris Elementary School now has almost a thousand students and these comprise children from many nationalities. Mother Jones would have been extremely proud of this educational establishment named in her honour.

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

Mary “Mother” Jones picture from 1901

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

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. 

National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum

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.

Beatles Album cover designer Jann Haworth includes Mother Jones in her latest mural creation.

The original Sgt. Pepper album cover from 1967

Beatles Album cover designer Jann Haworth includes Mother Jones in her latest mural creation.

Cork woman Mother Jones has been included among the women icons in the Work in Progress Celebrating Women Who are Catalysts for Change mural featuring the faces of more than 100 influential women which have either been written out of history or marginalised.

This mural has been designed in Utah in America by Jann Hayworth and her daughter Liberty Blake.

Jann Haworth and her husband Peter Blake designed the famous album cover of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band back in 1967, arguably the best remembered LP Album cover of all time.

This Beatles album spent 27 weeks at the top of the British charts and featured such songs as Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, When I’m Sixty-Four, A little Help from my Friends and A Day in the Life!

The recent Work in Progress mural consists of seven panels is 28 foot long and 8 foot wide has been on display at various cities in America and is now on its way to the UK where it will be on display at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester from November 2nd.

The Cork Mother Jones committee recently noticed that an image matching Mother Jones was on the front row of panel two of Work In Progress, so we contacted both Jann Hayworth and Liberty Blake directly who confirmed that Mother Jones is indeed featured in the mural.

Jann explained that she was a fervent admirer of Mother Jones and held her in high esteem due to her Irish great grandmother and was more than happy to include Mother Jones among those women in history whom she regards as catalysts for positive change in society.”

The new mural featuring Mother Jones to the left of the second panel. Courtesy of Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake.

Among the 100 or so women listed and portrayed in the Catalysts for Change mural alongside Mother Jones are Anne Frank, Michelle Obama, Marie Curie, Rachel Carson, Helen Keller and Mother Teresa and many others. (See workinprogressmural.org)

It should be noted that Mother Jones was also included by Jann Haworth in a permanent public civic Wall Mural alongside Martin Luther King and Gandhi in downtown Salt Lake City in Utah in 2004. This is known as the SLC Pepper mural and is an updated version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover.

The 2004 image in Salt LakeCity, Utah

Maybe one day soon the Catalysts for Change exhibition might be displayed in Cork city?

Historic new photos of Mother Jones rediscovered

Mother Jones in car

Mother Jones with Guy Miller (Miner’s Bulletin)

 

The Cork Mother Jones Committee has received the following photographs of Mother Jones during her visit to Northern Michigan during the Copper Country strike of 1913/14. She went north to the Great Lakes area to address a mass meeting of the union members and supporters. Mother Jones was 76 years old at the time. 

 
The strike, organised by the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), is today best remembered for the Italian Hall Disaster on Christmas Eve 1913 when a false fire alarm at a miners function in a hall in Calumet, Michigan caused a crush and resulted in the deaths of 73 people, mainly children.
Woodie Guthrie’s song “1913 Massacre” tells the story of this disaster. 
 

Mother Jones in Strikers Parade 1913

These photographs were supplied by the Michigan Technological University Archives and the Copper County Historical Collections. We wish to thank Lindsay Hiltunen, University Archivist of the Michigan Technological University.

Mining Strike (Michigan Technological University Archive

 
We acknowledge also the assistance of Jeremiah Mason Archivist of the Lake Superior Collection Management Centre in Calumet, Michigan. Thanks also to James Goltz of the Mount Olive museum. 

Preliminary announcement for Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020

The Cork Mother Jones Committee has announced that the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School will take place in and around Shandon over four days from Wednesday 29th July to Saturday 1st August 2020.
It will again feature talks, discussions, films, songs, stories and music associated with the “Spirit of Mother Jones”.
These will relate to labour and trade union matters, the history and heritage of the lives and contributions of working people, along with social justice, environmental and human rights issues.
The Committee welcomes relevant, interesting and challenging ideas, proposals and suggestions for topics or events for the 2020 festival and summer school from the public. Please forward outline details as soon as possible to motherjonescork@gmail.com for consideration.
Each year we present the prestigious Spirit of Mother Jones award to honour an individual (or group) who has made a difference to the pursuit of justice.
 
The Spirit of Mother Jones is a community based festival which is coordinated by a voluntary committee. We try to make a contribution to the expenses of those participating although most of those participating do so on a voluntary basis. In return, the events are informal, free and open to all to attend as we do not impose a charge on those who come along. We rely entirely on the goodwill, expertise and work of those participating, on the generosity of the local community in Cork, on fundraising and donations as well as sponsorship from the Cork City Council and the Trade Union movement.