Archive for the ‘In Remembrance’ Category

We found this excellent article on the Industrial Workers of the World site.

The Brief Origins of May Day

by Eric Chase 1993

Most people living in the United States know little about the International Workers’ Day of May Day. For many others there is an assumption that it is a holiday celebrated in state communist countries like Cuba or the former Soviet Union. Most Americans don’t realize that May Day has its origins here in this country and is as “American” as baseball and apple pie, and stemmed from the pre-Christian holiday of Beltane, a celebration of rebirth and fertility.

In the late nineteenth century, the working class was in constant struggle to gain the 8-hour work day. Working conditions were severe and it was quite common to work 10 to 16 hour days in unsafe conditions. Death and injury were commonplace at many work places and inspired such books as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Jack London’s The Iron Heel. As early as the 1860’s, working people agitated to shorten the workday without a cut in pay, but it wasn’t until the late 1880’s that organized labor was able to garner enough strength to declare the 8-hour workday. This proclamation was without consent of employers, yet demanded by many of the working class.

At this time, socialism was a new and attractive idea to working people, many of whom were drawn to its ideology of working class control over the production and distribution of all goods and services. Workers had seen first-hand that Capitalism benefited only their bosses, trading workers’ lives for profit. Thousands of men, women and children were dying needlessly every year in the workplace, with life expectancy as low as their early twenties in some industries, and little hope but death of rising out of their destitution. Socialism offered another option.

A variety of socialist organizations sprung up throughout the later half of the 19th century, ranging from political parties to choir groups. In fact, many socialists were elected into governmental office by their constituency. But again, many of these socialists were ham-strung by the political process which was so evidently controlled by big business and the bi-partisan political machine. Tens of thousands of socialists broke ranks from their parties, rebuffed the entire political process, which was seen as nothing more than protection for the wealthy, and created anarchist groups throughout the country. Literally thousands of working people embraced the ideals of anarchism, which sought to put an end to all hierarchical structures (including government), emphasized worker controlled industry, and valued direct action over the bureaucratic political process. It is inaccurate to say that labor unions were “taken over” by anarchists and socialists, but rather anarchists and socialist made up the labor unions.

At its national convention in Chicago, held in 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (which later became the American Federation of Labor), proclaimed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.” The following year, the FOTLU, backed by many Knights of Labor locals, reiterated their proclamation stating that it would be supported by strikes and demonstrations. At first, most radicals and anarchists regarded this demand as too reformist, failing to strike “at the root of the evil.” A year before the Haymarket Massacre, Samuel Fielden pointed out in the anarchist newspaper, The Alarm, that “whether a man works eight hours a day or ten hours a day, he is still a slave.”

Despite the misgivings of many of the anarchists, an estimated quarter million workers in the Chicago area became directly involved in the crusade to implement the eight hour work day, including the Trades and Labor Assembly, the Socialistic Labor Party and local Knights of Labor. As more and more of the workforce mobilized against the employers, these radicals conceded to fight for the 8-hour day, realizing that “the tide of opinion and determination of most wage-workers was set in this direction.” With the involvement of the anarchists, there seemed to be an infusion of greater issues than the 8-hour day. There grew a sense of a greater social revolution beyond the more immediate gains of shortened hours, but a drastic change in the economic structure of capitalism.

In a proclamation printed just before May 1, 1886, one publisher appealed to working people with this plea:

  • Workingmen to Arms!
  • War to the Palace, Peace to the Cottage, and Death to LUXURIOUS IDLENESS.
  • The wage system is the only cause of the World’s misery. It is supported by the rich classes, and to destroy it, they must be either made to work or DIE.
  • One pound of DYNAMITE is better than a bushel of BALLOTS!
  • MAKE YOUR DEMAND FOR EIGHT HOURS with weapons in your hands to meet the capitalistic bloodhounds, police, and militia in proper manner.

Not surprisingly the entire city was prepared for mass bloodshed, reminiscent of the railroad strike a decade earlier when police and soldiers gunned down hundreds of striking workers. On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. In Chicago, the epicenter for the 8-hour day agitators, 40,000 went out on strike with the anarchists in the forefront of the public’s eye. With their fiery speeches and revolutionary ideology of direct action, anarchists and anarchism became respected and embraced by the working people and despised by the capitalists.

The names of many – Albert Parsons, Johann Most, August Spies and Louis Lingg – became household words in Chicago and throughout the country. Parades, bands and tens of thousands of demonstrators in the streets exemplified the workers’ strength and unity, yet didn’t become violent as the newspapers and authorities predicted. (more…)

This piece was first published years ago  on Punkpink is a Bandits tip. Today we dedicated this piece to our comrade Deric who loves buns and you can read on for which side he is on.

Since it is Easter Week for our Christian Buddies I thought we would have a little fun with some Hot Cross Buns. To get us in the festive mood let us all join in singing the Hot Cross Buns song. Now don’t be shy, you can do it. GO______

 

Now wasn’t that nice? So I want to tell you what I found out about Hot Cross Buns that old time favorite for the Easter Week.  I also want to tell you a little story about a miracle in my studio kitchen that had our  artist friends and many others standing in line, paying a quarter to go through my door. First we will start with the old tale and then work out from there.

 

This is a picture of a Hot Cross Bun.

According to legend Hot Cross Buns were eaten by the Saxons in honor of the goddess Eostre with the cross cut into the buns to symbolize the four quarters of the moon. Eostre was the goddess of dawn, rebirth and spring. She comes forth dressed in white bringing light to all ending the darkness and cold of winter. Symbols associated with her are the hare and egg. The Anglo-Saxon month Eostur-monath is the equivalent to the month of April.

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During early missionary efforts, the Christian church adopted the buns and re-interpreted the cross in 1361. The buns along with Roman Catholicism was banned in England until Queen Elizabeth I passed a law allowing the consumption of Hot Cross Buns only on Easter, Christmas and funerals. (more…)

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In memoriam Gilbert Baker (1951–2017): Artist, designer and lifelong activist for LGBTQ equality. Gilbert created the rainbow flag for the 1978 Gay Freedom Day celebration in San Francisco. The flag is now an internationally recognized symbol of LGBTQ pride.
A native of Kansas, Gilbert lived in San Francisco from 1970 to 1994, contributing his distinctive designs for countless events. In 1994, he moved to New York City, where he spent the rest of his life. He remained active as an artist, with his work commemorating gay victims of the Nazi regime recently displayed in San Francisco.
Gilbert’s longtime friend Cleve Jones reported his death this afternoon. We have lost one of the greats of our community. Let us now lower rainbow flags worldwide to half mast in Gilbert’s memory.( Don Spradlin)

as posted on Homophobia Exposed. What a beautiful tribute.

Read about Gilbert Baker over at Towleroad written by Andy Towle HERE.

Our condolences to David V Moore and Cleve Jones and out community. Long may our rainbow flag wave.

“I am heartbroken. My dearest friend in the world is gone. Gilbert gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship. I can’t stop crying. I love you forever Gilbert Baker.”- David V Moore

Who Killed Iris Canada?

Posted: March 28, 2017 in In Remembrance

Many thanks to 48 Hills for this article.

Iris Canada dies a month after her eviction

At 100 years old, she did not survive long after the loss of the place she called home for 60 years

By Sana Saleem

March 27, 2017

Canada was a resident of Page St. since the 1940s (accounts vary) and secured a life-time lease at $700 a month in 2005 after the building was bought by Peter Owens, Stephen Owens and Carolyn Radisch.
Your actions matter! Donate $10 to support MEDA SF – who provide affordable housing in San Francisco

The Owens want to convert the six-story tenancy-in-common to condominiums, which requires consent from all building residents. Canada, through her attorney, refused to sign conversion papers arguing that it would result in Canada losing her life-time lease. The disagreement sparked an ugly legal battle mobilizing housing rights activists in San Francisco.

Owens argued that Canada no longer lived at her apartment and that it was in shoddy condition. Canada spent a lot of time with her niece or at the hospital, and the Owens family argued that meant Page Street was not her primary residence. Canada’s niece insisted that she be given an opportunity to buy the property, an offer the Owens felt was implausible. Canada’s attorney also didn’t accept reassurances from the Owens that they’d be willing to let her have a fulltime caretaker or meet other times if she came on board with the condominium conversion.

The court ruled in favor of Owens.

Canada’s story highlights the complexities of the housing crisis plaguing San Francisco. Housing activists argued that Canada not be evicted from her residence at her age while opponents argued she wasn’t living at her residence in the first place.

Canada appeared in a wheel chair at a few press conferences but mostly stayed at home or in the hospital owing to her age and ill health. Family and activists warned about the toll the legal battle was taking on her. Despite court orders, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy at first decided to hold off formalizing the eviction given Canada’s health — but on February 10th locks to her apartment were changed.

While accusations hurled from either side, Canada’s health deteriorated and fears of housing activists came true over the weekend: “This is what we said, this what we kept saying again and again but no one listened. We said she will die if she’s evicted that she won’t be able to overcome this shock. We’ve seen it time and time again,” Tommi Aviolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee told 48 Hills.

Mecca has been on the forefront of Canada’s fight: “We are San Francisco we are suppose to be compassionate and humane but this is what we did to a senior in our city. She could have been my own grandmother.”

Housing rights activists and community members have organized a vigil to remember Canada at her former residence 670 Page Street on Wednesday. Mecca says they want to give people a place to remember her: “We wanted to give people some time to grieve so we can all come together and remember her.”

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Alphonza Watson Rest in Power

Ms. Watson has become the 8th known homicide of a Trans Women this year. Furbirdsqueerly extends their condolences to her family and friends.

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Rest in Power Timothy Caugham.

Mr. Caugham was stabbed to death on a New York City Street by a white supremacist . Furbirdsqueerly extends their condolences to his family and friends.

Take the time to read about a revolutionary Socialist Feminist Gloria Martin who once said, “We have to change the system, because as long as the system is the same, we’ll be fighting all our lives for the same thing…” This wonderful article is written by a friend and comrade of mine Helen Gilbert a radical socialist feminist based in Seattle. This is an excellent article about a revolutionary life, about a woman who understood what a united front is all about and about someone whom I wish I had met. Check it out.

A very interesting note sent to me by Helen is this: “You’ll be interested to know that the second photo of Gloria, the one with the sign, is from a 1991 protest at the King County Jail in support of Steve Farmer. Steve Farmer was the first person in the state to be forcibly tested for HIV during that period of anti-gay hysteria over AIDS. FSP and RW and only the most radical LGBTQ groups supported him because the media portrayed him falsely as an unsavory sex predator. He spent a couple years in prison and died of AIDS a few years later. The article is from the South Side Emerald.

31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #21: Gloria Martin

by Helen Gilbert

When I first met Gloria Martin in 1972, I was a 17-year-old high school student. My friends and I had been searching for a way to connect with the tide of feminist, antiwar and civil rights activism all around us. After trying out different groups and activities we came across Radical Women. It was love at first sight!

This was the period of the youth movement and a miles-wide generation gap. Our parents had brought us McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, the A-bomb, and stifling conformity. Youth were demanding freedom, rights, responsibility and respect as adults.

“Don’t trust anyone over 30” was the mantra. Yet Radical Women had esteemed women leaders who were 50 and older!— Gloria Martin, Clara Fraser, and Melba Windoffer. I was amazed to find the most radical ideas I’d ever heard coming out of the mouths of lifelong women revolutionaries who were older than my parents, but working collaboratively with young feminists and helping them develop as thinkers, writers and organizers.

Gloria had a feisty, no-holds-barred style. In a 1978 essay she wrote, “Socialist feminism – right on! I believe in the revolutionary potential and talent of working women, militant women of color, lesbian radicals, discriminated-against women professionals, angry young women, rebellious housewives, harassed welfare mothers, and wise elderly women.” (“Where Matters Stand With Me,” http://www.socialism.com/drupal-6.8/introductory-writings?q=node/212 )

In addition to being an activist, Gloria was a working mother of eight children, whom she raised in South Seattle. She was a bit of a beatnik, given to wearing berets and organizing the world from an assortment of paper bags. She loved cats and pork chops, Wonder Bread and really bad coffee. She ended many a speech waving a red scarf—long live the revolution! Though she never finished high school, going to work at 14 to support her family, she treasured poets, writers, artists, and rare books. Late in life, she managed the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in the Pike Place Market.

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As a young woman, Gloria had been part of Communist-led desegregation actions in St. Louis, Missouri. When she arrived in Seattle in 1950, she worked with the civil rights organizations CORE and NAACP. In 1966, she joined forces with militant Black women, including Mary Louise Williams, to organize welfare recipients into the Aid to Dependent Children Motivated Mothers project launched by the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP). She later worked on other antipoverty programs and organized a union of poverty-program workers.

After years in the trenches fighting for change for working and poor women and women of color, Martin was more than ready for the new wave of feminism when it began to gather momentum in the 1960s. She forged practical and theoretical links between female Marxists and women of the New Left by initiating a popular 1966 workshop series called “Women in Society” at Seattle’s alternative Free University. Writing later about those classes, she recalled: “It was pure joy to hear women describing and evaluating their lives; most of us had never really known we had a history… Our dialogue with each other burst out in a great liberating chorus… We would fight and lead and struggle. Rising up we would push everyone up with us as we went…”

From 1968 to 1970, Martin was a key player in the multiracial, statewide mobilization of low-income women that resulted in the legalization of abortion in Washington State three years before Roe v. Wade. (more…)