Labor History Today

Hundreds of Thousands Expected to Attend 2020 Virtual May Day Rally in Nation’s Capital; Live coverage by Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash

May Day started in the U.S. in 1886 as a nationwide general strike by mostly immigrant workers for the 8-hour day. While celebrated throughout the rest of the world, it had become less prominent in the U.S. until recently with the revived protests by immigrant workers. But every year there is more reason for the working class to protest. And this year we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic where the plutocrats are more willing than ever to put their profits ahead of the very lives of workers, who are taking to the streets — appropriately socially distancing of course — wearing brightly colored masks and now heading to the Nation’s Capital under banners declaring “We Are The Workers of the World” & “We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains & A World To Win,” “We are the 99% and Will Reopen the Economy, Putting People Before Profits.”

Partial list of speakers at today’s rally:

John L Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) and a driving force behind the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which established the United Steel Workers of America and helped organize millions of other industrial workers; Genora Dollinger, leader of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Women’s Strike Brigade during the Sit-Down Strikes of 1936-1937 at General Motors Corporation in Flint; A. Phillip Randolph, labor unionist, civil rights activist and socialist politician, who organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Paul Robeson, the eloquent and highly charismatic actor and one of the most treasured names in song, who was a staunch Cold War-era advocate for human rights; Dolores Huerta, labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Cesar Chavez, is a co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW); Lisa Tiger, a member of the Muscogee Nation who comes from a family of acclaimed Native American artists, including her father, Jerome Tiger, and grew up surrounded by Native American Art; plus the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eugene Victor DebsHuey Long, and a cast of tens of thousands that is WE THE PEOPLE, building bridges from the militancy of the past to inspire the workers of today!

This special May Day edition of Labor History Today is produced by Building Bridges’ Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash.