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/

The story of Marjorie Mazia and Woody Guthrie.

Saul Schneiderman, (below alongside a Mother Jones marker), editor of Friday’s Labor Folklore has sent us the following link to the story of Marjorie Mazia and Woody Guthrie.

Marjorie and Woody were married in 1945 and had four children, Cathy Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Joady Guthrie and Nora Guthrie.

Woody was one of America’s greatest working class singers and wrote many union songs including Union Maid.

To receive many other stories from the history of the Labour Movement send an email and say “Subscribe me” to
fridaysfolklore@gmail.com

https://conta.cc/2Z79HTh

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Cork.
Mother Jones Lives.

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 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 O Brien, 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

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.”

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. 

James Connolly’s encounter with Mother Jones in New York

Our thanks to US Labour activist Saul Schniderman and Si Kahn for supplying an interesting article written by Professor L.A.O’Donnell from 1987 on the role of Irish emigrants who were active in the US Labour movement. Entitled “Irish Yeast in the Trade Unions” it was published in Talkin’ Union No 16 in September 1987 and makes reference to Mother Jones and James Connolly as well as Jim Larkin and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

The 1987 article as it appeared

The source for the description of the meeting with Mother Jones in 1908 in the Bronx is “Rebel Girl”, the autobiography of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.  Among the speakers at the 2019 summer school will be Lorraine Starkey who will discuss the life and work of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Irish Yeast in the Trade Unions

By L.A. O’Donnell

Irish immigrants escaping to the United States from famine and oppression in their native land came, not only to nourish their hunger, but also out of thirst for freedom and independence. Mostly poor, they filled the ranks of unskilled labor but quickly began organizing to protect their rights as workers and advance their wages and working conditions. From Terence Powderly of the Knights of Labor to George Meany of the AFL-CIO, Irish-Americans fought the good fight to secure their human rights and further the cause of social justice.

Powderly

Terence Powderly, leader of the Knights of Labor

Irish-Americans in the labor movement did not forget the cause of independence for their native land either. In 1920 they campaigned successfully for a resolution at the AFL convention demanding independence for Ireland. As recently as 1981, the Pennsylvania AFL-CO expressed “vigorous support for the cause of freedom in Northern Ireland” in a resolution adopted at its convention.

In Irish history, the movement for independence and the union movement were closely entwined. James Connolly and James Larkin were Ireland’s outstanding labor leaders as well as champions of Irish independence.  Connolly was executed for his important role in the Easter Week Revolt of 1916. Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, largest in present day Ireland. Connolly collaborated with him in his efforts to get the union firmly established.

Both men were born in Irish ghettos outside Ireland. Connolly in Edinburgh, from which he escaped at age fourteen by joining the British army for seven years, Larkin in Liverpool from which he escaped by going to sea. Both of them were gifted organizers who put their talents to work on both sides of the Atlantic.

James Connolly

James Connolly

Each of them spent considerable time in the United States attempting to raise money and campaigning for labor organizations and other causes. They found most trade unionists in America a good deal less radical than they themselves were. Connolly came over for a four month speaking tour in 1902 at the invitation of the Socialist Labor Party. He returned a year later for a seven year stay.

During his stay in America, Connolly brought his family over and scrounged a bare living at various jobs including one at Singer Sewing Machine in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  He was actively engaged in the Socialist Labor party until he tangled with its guiding genius, Daniel DeLeon, the “Socialist Pope”.  At one time he worked for the IWW organizing longshoremen on the New York docks.  His efforts were instrumental in the expulsion of DeLeon from the IWW. At the time he lived in the Bronx.

E. Gurley Flynn

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn addressing strikers at Patterson, New Jersey in 1913

In the Bronx, the Connolly’s were neighbours and close friends of the Flynn family whose best known daughter was Elizabeth Gurley Flynn – then still a teenager, but soon to become a famous rouser and organizer for the Wobblies. At an outdoor rally on a warm summer evening in 1908, Connolly, the Flynn girl and her husband listened to a fiery old Irishwoman scold her audience for failing to help the Western miners in their strike.

The speaker was Mary Harris “Mother Jones.”  Her tongue was so sharp, and she described the bloodshed and violence so vividly that Flynn – then pregnant – fainted. Connolly, luckily, caught her as she was about to fall. Mother Jones interrupted herself long enough to command “get that poor girl some water” and continued her scold. Jones was a United Mine Workers organizer and close friend to many labor leaders but particularly John Fitzpatrick, head of the Chicago Federation of Labor and Terence Powderley. Thereafter she took a maternal interest in James Connolly and Elizabeth Flynn, (a young trade union radical born in New York of Galway parents in 1890).

Mother Jones J. Fitzpatrick

Mother Jones with John Fitzpatrick, Chicago. From collection of George R. Rinhart

Returning to Dublin in 1910, Connolly became associated with James Larkin in establishing the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. In 1913 he was involved along with Larkin, in the great labor dispute of that year which reached its climax in the “Bloody Sunday Riot of August 31. The dispute dramatized the poverty, disease and overcrowding of slum dwellers in Dublin and convulsed the city entirely.  Connolly assumed leadership of the Transport Workers Union when Larkin left for America in October of 1914, ostensibly for a short fundraising trip, but one that actually kept him out of Ireland for nine years – the last four of which were in Sing Sing prison serving a sentence for “criminal anarchy” until pardoned by New York Governor Al Smith.

When James Larkin arrived in New York in 1914, haggard and exhausted from the 1913 upheaval he immediately called upon the Flynn’s, announcing simply, “James Connolly sent me.”  Thereafter, he was a frequent visitor to the Flynn household, delighting to drink tea with the family since he, like Connolly, was a teetotaller.  But Larkin did much more than drink tea in the United States. Until 1919, James Larkin actively engaged in the work of the IWW, especially in its efforts to oppose World War 1. His socialism and his hatred for Ireland’s subjugation combined to make him a passionate opponent of the war. He was a thundering, explosive and unpredictable public speaker who could bring a crowd to its feet at will.  He travelled all around the country demanding justice for the poor and an end to the war. For his efforts he was tried and imprisoned for “criminal anarchy.” Upon his return to Ireland in 1923 he discovered his union was in the hands of charismatic leaders who thwarted his attempt to resume leadership of it.  He died in 1947.

Lockout 1913

Scenes from Dublin’s “Bloody Sunday” during the 1913 Lockout.

In the course of the 1913 upheaval in Dublin, Larkin’s union organised a force to defend workers against police attacks. Though numbering only in the hundreds, it was called the Irish Citizen Army and Connolly’s experience in the British military was drawn upon to train it. Though small, the ICA played a significant role in the Easter Rising of 1916, making up much of the soldiery which occupied the General Post Office in Sackville Street (now O’Connell St).  At the time Patrick Pearse, although proclaimed President of the Provisional Government and Commander in Chief, deferred to Connolly’s superior military knowledge and experience and permitted him to direct the operation. Connolly proved a decisive tactician but was able to hold out only one week before surrendering to the overwhelmingly superior numbers of British forces. In the action Connolly had sustained a bullet wound in the ankle which then grew gangrenous.

Leaders of the insurrection numbering over one hundred were methodically tried and sentenced to death for treason by the British. Connolly was the fifteenth to be executed in Kilmainham Prison (14th actually) after having been received back into the Catholic faith, shriven, given communion and last rights. His wife, Lillie and daughter Nora visited with him on the eve of his execution and found him calm, without illusions and resigned to his fate – perhaps anticipating release from a life of poverty and frustration.  Seated on a box before the firing squad because of his wound, he met his death on Friday, May 12th 1916 and entered the pantheon of martyrs for Irish freedom.

Public opinion in Dublin and throughout Ireland had seriously mixed feelings about the uprising in view of the many Irish sons who had enlisted in the British army and the belief that the rising was conducted by a small number of radicals. When, however, English authorities began systematically executing its leaders – especially the wounded Connolly – the tide of opinion shifted dramatically, and momentum for independence became irresistible.  Sobered by the response, the British halted all executions after Connolly’s. But it was too late.

Note: The late L.A. O’Donnell was professor of economics at Villanova University, USA and author of  Irish Voice and Organized Labor.  He wrote many articles on labor and economic history, emphasizing the contribution of Irish immigrants. He died in 2011. 

Saul Schinderman published 17 editions of this magazine from 1981-1988. He continues to publish Fridays Labor Folklore regularly which details items of interest in the labour movement in the USA. Copies of Saul’s regular publication are available at;
We are also including an article by Professor Rosemary Feurer of the Mother Jones Heritage Project entitled  Get off your Knees”: James Connolly, Jim Larkin and Mother Jones in the fight for a Global Labor Movement. This paper was presented at the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Friday 1st August.

Mother Jones for 2019 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parades

Mother Jones for the 2019 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parades.

chicago-1535678_1920

Chicago – the Windy City

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.

Mother Jones Patricks Day banner final

The new banner which will debut at this year’s Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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.”

haymarket meeting

Haymarket poster

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.

Haymarket Affair ILHS

Haymarket event

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.

LI-sculp-6045c

The Haymarket Monument, Chicago