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One Struggle, an "€œanti-capitalist" group  focusing on social justice / labor issues  holds monthly Open Mike nights to raise funds for their publication;  
the events are held monthly (every third Thursday of the month)  
from 8:00 P.M. until 10:00 P.M.
at the Undergrounds Coffeehaus
3000 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306
Requested donation: $5
Available for sale:  Beer & wine, pastries and snacks.

Join us for the next event: Thursday, Jan 17th, 2013.  Share your talents or listen to comedians, singers, acoustic musicians, poets and dramatic readers and ranters..."€œOne Struggle, Many Voices".

Stephanie McMillan, an environmental cartoonist (code green), is one of the founders of this group; she has recently published a comics-journalism book about the Occupy movement, "The Beginning of the American Fall".  Her work has been described by the late historian / social activist Howard Zinn, author of 'A People's History of the United States' as:  "social satire at its wittiest and most engaging".

Here is a link to the write up of an earlier One Struggle's Open Mic Nights.
It was at an open mike night that I learned about the Wobblies  (Industrial Workers of the World or I.W.W) and learned various  labor songs, such as Pie in the Sky, Joe Hill, etc.

Below are a few examples of poems / essays that were read during these fundraising events.

At the Sept 20th, 2012 event, a poem was read that I thought was chilling, yet unforgettable:  Martin Espada - The Swimming Pool of Villa Grimaldi

Here is a youtube clip of the author reading this poem:

Finally, here is an essay I wrote / read on the Dec  20th , 2012 open mike night.

A few weeks ago, I went to the Boca Raton Museum of Art (Wednesday nights from 5 to 9PM they offer free admissions) and I saw an exhibit of quilts with a political  message. One of the most impressive quilts, was the 9/11 National Tribute Quilt.  The 8 x 30 feet   display shows four central panels forming a montage of the twin towers of the World Trade Center against the New York City skyline.  I was told that the quilt  bears the names of all  the  people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and I immediately thought  “That’s  not true, what about the numerous undocumented workers who lost their lives on that day”,  eloquently immortalized in  the  song by Emma’s Revolution:

"If I Give Your Name", Performed 9/10/11

Mi esposa, my wife, worked on the 80th floor
 The company had hired my people before
 She got the job by word of mouth
 That’s the way in the north when you’re from the south
 They say 3,000 but the counting’s not done
 Mi esposa está muerta
 Three thousand and one

I have no papers, I have no rights
 All my days end in sleepless nights
 Missing you, silently
 My wife, my brother, my daughter, my father....
 If I give your name,
 Will they come after me?...

As we all know, Sept 11, 2001 was used as a rallying cry  for  the US to  invade  first Afghanistan, then Iraq.  According to Howard Zinn’s book-- 'Voices of a People's History of the United States':
One of the most eloquent and uncompromising voices against war was that of Eugene Debs, the railroad union organizer and leader of the Socialist
Party. On June 18, 1918, he addressed a mass rally of workers in Ohio, knowing
very well that his words could lead, as they did, to his arrest and imprisonment.

He was found guilty by the jury of violating the Espionage Act, which made it
a crime to "obstruct the recruitment or enlistment service." His sentence of ten
years was upheld by a unanimous Supreme Court.

Here is the speech that led to his arrest.  

"THE CANTON, OHIO, SPEECH" (JUNE 1918) - read  by  Mark Ruffalo (video)

Sam Johnson declared that "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." He
must have had ... [the] Wall Street gentry in mind, or at least their prototypes,
for in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has
wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to
deceive and overawe the people...

Every solitary one of these aristocratic conspirators and would-be murderers
claims to be an arch-patriot; every one of them insists that the war is being  
waged to make the world safe for democracy. What humbug! What rot!
What false pretense!

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. The poor, had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another's throats for the profit and glory of the  rich who held them in contempt.  And that is war in a nutshell.

The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose - especially their lives. They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command.

But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people...

The working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the
supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish their
corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It
is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they
alone make peace.

Yours not to reason why;
Yours but to do and die.
That is their motto and we object on the part of the awakening workers of this
nation. If war is right let it be declared by the people...

If the people were allowed to speak, I believe that their voices would echo George McGovern's acceptance speech in Miami Beach in 1972:
"From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America. From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America. From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle hands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick” come home, America. Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward..."
Clip of McGovern delivering his “Come Home America” speech.

Originally posted to Independent Musings on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 02:18 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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