Monday, September 1, 2014

Monday Music: Woody Guthrie, Ludlow Massacre

Woody Guthrie with his guitar
bearing the slogan,
"This machine kills fascists"

Labor Day is more than a three-day weekend. It's not just a day for one more trip to the beach or one last hot dog at the end of summer. It is a time to remember the benefits that the labor movement has brought to our country.  Many today seem to have little or no knowledge of the past struggles with the industrial corporations for better working conditions, even as workers rights have slowly eroded in our day. Rights for working men and women have been hard-won in our society and without labor unions, much of what we take for granted in the workplace today would not have been put into place.

Woody Guthrie, known for his influence in American folk music, wrote over a thousand songs about "the common man." Many of those songs had to do with labor relations. "Ludlow Massacre" is a song commemorating an incident in 1914 during a coal miner's strike (See note below*)

*From WikipediaThe Ludlow Massacre was an attack by the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado, on April 20, 1914. Some two dozen people, including women and children, were killed. The chief owner of the mine, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was widely criticized for the incident...

...The Ludlow Massacre was a watershed moment in American labor relations. Historian Howard Zinn described the Ludlow Massacre as "the culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history". Congress responded to public outcry by directing the House Committee on Mines and Mining to investigate the incident. Its report, published in 1915, was influential in promoting child labor laws and an eight-hour work day.

And here is another "one of Woody's old songs" sung by Billy Bragg & Co. at Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration ...


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