The funeral of Mother Jones

90 years ago on Monday 8th December 1930 at 10am, Mother Jones was buried at the Union Cemetery, Mount Olive, Illinois.

Earlier on Sunday afternoon Father John Maguire in his funeral oration at the funeral of Mother Jones.

“Today in gorgeous mahogany furnished and carefully guarded offices in distant capitals, wealthy mine owners and capitalists are breathing sighs of relief. Today among the plains of Illinois, the hillsides and valleys of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, In California, Colorado and British Columbia, strong men and toil worn women are weeping tears of bitter grief. The reason for this contrasting relief and sorrow is the same. Mother Jones is dead!”

Father John Maguire

The photos above from the Illinois Labour History Society give an indication of the impressive burial ceremony .

They show the scene outside St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Washington. Among those included at the casket of Mother Jones is William Doak, US Secretary of Labour.

Other photos show the massed ranks of organised labour honouring Mother Jones at Mount Olive

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

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 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.

The Story of Emmett Till: Let the People See

Professor Elliott J. Gorn will tell the story of Emmett Till at the Firkin Crane Theatre on Saturday afternoon 3rd August at 3pm.

Let the People See.

Emmett Till

14 year old Emmett Till from Chicago visited some of his family in Mississippi in August 1955.

He allegedly whistled at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant who was working behind the counter of a country store in Money, Mississippi on 24th August. Emmett was kidnapped by Mrs Bryant’s husband Roy  and half brother J.W. “Big” Milam a few days later. They beat him and then shot him.

Emmett’s tortured body was found in the Taallahatchie River on Wednesday August 31st, with a cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire.

 

 

Instead of quietly burying the remains, Emmett’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley decided to have an open casket at the funeral in Chicago.

 

She proclaimed         “Let the people see what they did to my boy.”  

The mutilated face of Emmett Till

A hundred thousand people did see his face as they filed past the casket and millions saw the photos in the African-American press.

The burial aroused a storm of wider media interest and the story was featured extensively all over America. Yet just a month later the all-white jury found the killers of Emmett Till not guilty of murder in spite of strong evidence presented.

 

 

Prof. Elliott Gorn’s book

African Americans were shocked and horrified while many white Americans were forced to question the systematic racism which infected American society. The lynching of Emmett Till became a defining moment for many African Americans from Muhammad Ali to Rosa Parks. On 1st December 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus in Montgomery. A few days earlier she had attended a meeting where the Emmett Till case was discussed.

The Till murder sparked a generation to create the greatest mass mobilisation of the twentieth- century in the American civil rights movement.

The lynching of young Emmet Till forces everyone to look hard at the realities of racism today as racially motivated violence continues despite the haunting image of young Till and the determination of his brave mother Mamie to let the people see!

Elliott J. Gorn

Author Elliott J. Gorn will talk of the short life and death of Emmett Till at the Firkin Crane Theatre on Saturday 3rd August at 3pm.

Elliott’s book,  The Story of Emmett Till……Let the People See is published by Oxford University Press 2018. He is also the author of Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America and will speak about Mother Jones on Wednesday evening at 8pm at the Firkin Crane Theatre. All welcome.

Mother Jones and the March of the Mill Children

March of the Mill Children

On a steaming hot day on 7th July 1903, a raggle-taggle group of adults and children left a small union hall in Kensington, Philadelphia. Led by an elderly woman in a Victorian style dress, a parade of children and adults set out on the road towards Torresdale Park on the edge of the city and into history.

It presented as a chaotic picture in the burning sun, with some children carrying flags, a little children’s fife and drum band playing, a number of adult stewards and some provision wagons, between 300 and 400 people in all. By the following morning, many had returned home before the march recommenced with 60/70 children setting out for the nearby town of Bristol.

The elderly woman was Mother Jones, her march was being used to highlight exploitative child labour practices in the textile mills as well as collecting money for their parents who were in the middle of a textile factory strike in Philadelphia. Mother Jones was determined to march with the children the 125 or so miles to Wall Street in New York. The youngest marcher was little Thomas McCarthy.

Mother Jones (centre) at the start of the March of the Mill Children, Philadelphia (Pic: US Library of Congress)

From this inauspicious beginning thus began one of the most famous and inspirational marches in history, the publicity created especially in the New York media highlighted in the public domain and wider consciousness how at least two million very young children were forced to forego education to work long hours in the mills, mines and factories across America. Carrying signs with slogans such as “We Only Ask For Justice”, “We Want To Go To School”, “We Want Time To Play”, “Prosperity is Here…Where is Ours?” the children proclaimed their wishes to all.

Over the next three weeks, beset by disputes, poor weather, bad conditions, poor food and even mosquito attacks, the young marchers pressed on, Otter Creek bridge, Morrisville, Trenton, Princeton University, Metuchen, Elizabeth, …….arrive, hold a large public meeting, find a place to sleep and onwards early the following morning. Somewhere along the way, Mother Jones decided she would call out to Oyster Bay, the summer residence of the President of the USA to meet with Theodore Roosevelt.

Saggamore Hill, summer home of US President Theodore Roosevelt at the time of the march

Crossing the Hudson River on 22nd July, some 30,000 people gathered to welcome the young marchers. Mother Jones became a sensation in New York……..all she wanted was “public attention on the subject of child labour”. She certainly got that as she travelled out to Oyster Bay, Long Island with three children and despite the President refusing to meet her or the children “the President has nothing to do with such matters”, the local New York media covered it extensively. Cartoons satirising the President running away from Mother Jones and the children flourished in the newspapers.

Mother Jones had indeed achieved “a tipping point”. Child labour was now on the public agenda, it was being talked about on the streets and among some politicians. A National Child Labour Committee was established to reform child labour. Many States took action to ban young children from working and although it took nearly another 40 years for the Federal Authorities to ban it completely, the efforts of Mother Jones in 1903 certainly aroused public interest.

On August 4th 1903, Mother Jones and her mill children went back to Philadelphia by train. Back in Kensington the textile strikers had to return to work for 60 hours per week, the children probably did too and became another lost generation. However child labour was now on the public agenda and Mother Jones with some quiet satisfaction was able to conclude “our march had done its work”

Plaque at Philadelphia City Hall marking the March of the Mill Children and the role of Mother Jones (Pic: Donald D. Groff via Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia)

This March initially appeared to achieve very little, as very powerful people and some union people could see little wrong with child labour. Yet in Mother Jones eyes …. child labour exploitation clearly exposed capitalism and its exploitation of labour at its most basic level…….the children had to work because the greedy powerful robber barons would not pay their parents a fair wage and families had no option but to send all members no matter what age out to work to survive. Her views became conventional wisdom.

Over time, the March of the Mill Children has grown in stature and fame as it triggered debate across a wide spectrum of public opinion. It became an important symbol in the struggle to abolish child slavery in the USA. While not yet gaining the national importance or recognition of the 1965 Selma Marches later did for civil rights, it remains today a powerful reminder of the injustice of child labour.

It resonates also today in the school children’s protests in relation to saving planet Earth from environmental destruction. Ironically the climate change children argue that there is little point in going to school if the planet is going to burn up as a result of human greed.

One cannot ignore either today that millions of young workers continue to work in dangerous conditions and face exploitation in the fashion industry in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. Young garment workers face appallingly low wages and sometimes work 12-14 hours per day to provide clothes and brand names as cheaply as possible for the affluent world. Worker’s right to organise are routinely ignored in many countries so the message of Mother Jones remains valid in much of the world today.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee with the assistance of the Cork Community Art Link project and the Foroige Group in Blarney Street will recreate the March of the Mill Children in a pageant beginning at 12.30 on Wednesday 31st July at the Shandon Plaza, alongside the Firkin Crane Theatre.

We believe this is the very first occasion outside of America where this famous March will be performed. It will take place in the very streets where Mary Harris walked when she was a young girl.     

 

Sources:

Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, Elliott J Gorn, Hill and Wang 2001. Chapter 5. The Children’s Crusade.

The Autobiography of Mother Jones, Mother Jones, Charles H Kerr Publishing Company 1925. Chapter X. The March of the Mill Children.

We Have Marched Together – The Working Children’s Crusade. Stephen Currie, Lerner Publications Company 1997.

On Our Way to Oyster Bay – Mother Jones And Her March for Children’s Rights. Written by Monica Kulling, Illustrated by Felicita Sala. CitizenKid 2016.

 

 

 

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

“The Female Vote: Why Gender Matters in American Politics” – Emily Twarog

Emily E.LB Twarog will appear at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Friday morning 11am at the Cathedral Visitor Centre.

Emily Twarog
Emily Twarog

For many people in Ireland, American politics remain a mystery, we do not understand how Donald J Trump could be elected President of America. Dr Twarog will examine one aspect of the election, why more white women vote Republican and voted for President Donald J Trump.

Emily will address the topic:  “The Female Vote: Why Gender Matters in American Politics”

“You don’t need the vote to raise hell”

Mother Jones

“Throughout the twentieth century, working and middle-class women struggled to collaborate. For many working-class women, Mother Jones’ declaration that “you don’t need the vote to raise hell” rang true far more than Alice Paul’s persistent call for equality through the vote.  This division continues into the twenty-first century as they deepen along multiple identities – racial, class, gender, and educational.

White women repeatedly voted against their own self-interest. Let us run some numbers. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush got 55 percent of the white female vote and Democrat John Kerry got 44 percent in what analysts call a “reverse gender gap” (one working in the GOP’s favor) of 11 points. In 2008, Republican John McCain got 53 percent of the white female vote and Democrat Barack Obama got 46 percent—a gap of 7 points.

Compared with four years earlier, the reverse gender gap remains but decreased by 4 points. Progress? No. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney got 56 percent of the white female vote compared with President Obama who got just 42 percent. Far from narrowing, the reverse gender gap among white women widened to 14 points.

In 2016, despite the presence of a white woman on the ballot, the gap persisted among white women with a staggering 10-point split. Republican Donald Trump got 53 percent of the white female vote and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton got 43 percent of the white female vote. As a whole, white women still opted to vote for someone who not only did not look like them, but was also heard by the entire nation (and beyond) admitting to sexually harassing women.

In my talk, I will examine the complexities of American electoral politics in more depth”.

Emily E. LB. Twarog, PhD is Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Labor and Employment Relations Labor Education Program

Affiliate faculty, European Union Center

Affiliate faculty, Women & Gender in Global Perspectives 

Emily is the author of a recent Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in Twentieth Century America (Oxford University Press) in hardback and e-book. Available IndieboundAmazon and Powell’s (a union shop).

Mother Jones Monument at Mt. Olive, Illinois is rededicated

  • Sign over entrance to the Union Miners Cemetery, Mt. Olive
  • The Mother Jones Monument

Mother Jones Monument rededicated June 20, 2015 Mount Olive, Illinois – the following report of the rededication at Mount Olive Miners Cemetery has been sent to the Cork Mother Jones Committee by Terry Reed , Field Services Director, of the Illinois Federation of Teachers www.ift-aft-org.

In the Union Miner’s cemetery lies the grave of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones. At the foot of a marble monument adorned with bronze statues of two miners and plaques commemorating fallen miners the simple head stone reads “Mother Jones”. On this Saturday in June hundreds of good union men and women gathered together with community folk around the gravesite and monument. They listened to the songs of working men and women sung by Bucky Halker and Chris Vallilo. They listened to speeches from local officials and committee members, Michael Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO and other union officials, an Illinois State Senator, an Illinois Congressman and a USA Senator from Illinois. They watched as an actress, Margaret Orner, portrayed Mother Jones and breathed the words once spoken by the daughter of County Cork, Ireland. There was the obligatory prayer by a local clergy man that silenced the crowd as they bowed their heads. The grand finale had all in attendance circling the monument and grave joining hands while singing together the verses of the union anthem “Solidarity Forever”.

Everyone admired the craftsmanship and work of the union hands that brought the 80 year old monument back to its original splendour. The stone and mortar restored, the bronze shiny as new and the once crumbling foundation sturdy and strong. The gate at the entrance to the cemetery proudly displaying “The Resting Place of Real Union People” on its iron face plate looking as smart as it was when first erected. The many colored shirts displaying their union membership, Ironworkers, Steel workers, Electricians, Bricklayers and Stone Masons, Auto Workers, Laborers, Teachers, Government workers, Teamsters, Operating Engineers, Mine Workers, Painters all smiling and congratulating themselves. Proud of their coming together to insure that the monument and grave site will remain for at least another 80 years to be viewed and admired.

But even more than the marble and bronze and iron that make up the monument they came this day to draw sustenance from the spirit and life of Mother Jones. As speaker after speaker so eloquently reminded them this rededication accomplishes nothing if it doesn’t inspire each and every one to draw from the words and actions of the courageous person it honors. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones spoke truth to power. She utilized her speech and pen to attack injustice and backed it up with her actions. She stood fearless before the bosses of Industry, Governors of states, and Judges in their Courtrooms. Even the President of a nation was not above her ire. She faced the guns of her would be oppressors and the jails they tried to use to stop her. And all the time she walked among the working families she championed. Organizing, educating and agitating them to action. It is Mother Jones they came to honor. It is her life lessons they hope to carry on in their battles against austerity and the attacks on the working class and their unions.

 

“Get off your knees” – the Rosemary Feurer lecture 2014

At the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2014 an important paper was delivered Professor Rosemary Feurer of Northern Illinois University.  Prof. Feurer, who had also spoken at the inaugural festival in Cork in 2012, examined the parallel activities of Mother Jones and the great Irish socialist leaders James Connolly and “Big Jim” Larkin, in particular looking at the similar paths they followed, both geographical and philosophical and conclusions they reached.

You can download the full text of Prof. Feurer’s lecture by clicking on the link below:-

Get Off Your Knees Feurer

 

Rosemary Feurer
Rosemary Feurer in Cork, August 2014 with the banner of Women Against Pit Closures from the UK Miner’s Strike 1984

Rosemary Feurer is Professor of History at Northern Illinois University.  She co-directed “Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman”.  Author, she writes extensively on labour history.  Rosemary is Administrator of www.motherjonesmuseum.org website and Mother Jones Lives.  She attended the inaugural Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork in 2012 and delivered the above lecture at the same festival on August 1st, 2014.   You can download the full lecture by clicking on the link below: