Join the community for a celebration and remembrance the 125th anniversary of the Haymarket tragedy, honoring eight martyrs of the world's labor movement.
International Labor Day, also known as May Day, is the most celebrated secular holiday in the world, except in the United States. Yet the most progressive changes in our country and across the world were due to labor movements.
2011 will mark the restoration and rededication of the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument, the statue of liberty for workers around the world. As a symbol of international labor solidarity, come together to honor our history and remember that the only way to stop the worldwide assault on working people by corporate greed is to stand together.
"Look at this simple, yet majestic woman cast of bronze; how she presses with one hand the laurel wreath on the brow of the fallen hero, while, without halting, she steps forward into the great storm laden future whose lightening now causes the world to tremble. Look at this image and your hopes will be nourished, your sense will become keener, your hearts will be steeled!"
—From the address by Dr. Ernest Schmidt at the dedication ceremony of June 25th, 1893
A reported 8,000 people were in attendance in 1893 as the Martyrs Monument was unveiled at the gravesite of six of the Haymarket Martyrs. They had come from Chicago and around the world to what was then known as Waldheim Cemetery. This was the same event at which Governor John Peter Altgeld announced his pardon of those Martyrs who were in Joliet State Prison.
In 1971, the Illinois Labor History Society became the owner of the Monument and plot of land in Forest Home Cemetery. A moving ceremony was held in which the deed to the Monument was presented to ILHS by Irving S. Abrams, the last surviving member of the Pioneer Aid and Support Society which had raised the money to erect the monument.
The Martyrs were unfairly convicted of inciting an unknown person to throw a bomb into a crowd of police ordering those gathered at Chicago's Haymarket on the night of May 4th, 1886, to disperse. The meeting had been called to protest consistent police brutality in strikes. The conviction was denounced widely throughout the world labor community.
The monument was recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1997, and ILHS was named its official "Steward." Every year, the Monument is visited by many from around the world who come to pay tribute to the Martyrs and to recognize the historic and artistic significance of the site.
Pics from the Rededication
Passages from the Martyrs:
Speech of Adolf Fischer
read by Tom Balanoff, President, SEIU Illinois Council
I will only say that I protest against my being sentenced to death, because I have committed no crime. I was tried here in this room for murder, and I was convicted of Anarchy. I protest against being sentenced to death, because I have not been found guilty of murder. But, however, if I am to die on account of being an Anarchist, on account of my love for liberty, fraternity and equality, then I will not remonstrate. If death is the penalty for our love of the freedom of the human race, then I say openly I have forfeited my life; but a murderer I am not. Although being one of the parties who arranged the Haymarket meeting, I had no more to do with the throwing of that bomb, I had no more connection with it than State's Attorney Grinnell had, perhaps.
Statement of Albert Parsons at his sentencing hearing
read by James M. Sweeney, IUOE Local 150
I am doomed by you to suffer an ignominious death because I am an outspoken enemy of coercion, of privilege, or force, of authority. Think you, the people are blind, are asleep, are indifferent? You deceive yourselves. I tell you as a man of the people, and I speak for them, that you every word and act are recorded. You are being weighed in the balance. The people are conscious of your power - your stolen power. I, as a working man, stand here and to your face, in your stronghold of oppression, denounce your crimes against humanity. It is for this I die, but my death will not have been in vain.
Statement of August Spies
read by Roberta Lynch, Deputy Director, AFSCME Council 31
I care not to protest my innocence of any crime, and of the one I am accused of in particular. I have done that and leave the rest to the judgment of history. But to you I wish to address myself now as the alleged arch-conspirator (leaving the fact that I never have belonged to any kind of a conspiracy out of the question altogether). If a sacrifice of life there must be, will not my life suffice? The State's attorney of Cook county asked for no more. Take this, then! Take my life! I offer it to you so that you may satisfy the fury of a semi-barbaric mob, and save that of my comrades. I know that every one of my comrades is as willing to die, and perhaps more so than I am. It is not for their sake that I make this offer, but in the name of humanity and progress, in the interest of a peaceable — if possible — development of the social forces that are destined to lift our race upon a higher and better plane of civilization In the name of the traditions of our country I beg you to prevent a seven-fold murder upon men whose only crime is that they are idealists, that they long for a better future for all. If legal murder there must be, let one, let mine, suffice.
May Day 2011 The Honorable Thomas L. Kilbride, Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice
Solidarity Forever May Day 2011
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