Friday, November 2, 2007

Mother Jones

Meilikki has a wonderful biographical essay up today, about Mother Jones.

She was a pretty remarkable woman. Years ago, I posted a review of a Mother Jones biography on The book is called "Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America". It was written by Elliot Gorn.

Mother Jones was a character of mythic proportions, created by the all-too-human Mary Harris Jones. The author takes the position that while many of the details of her life - as portrayed in Mother's speeches, writings and autobiography - are impossible to verify or demonstrably false, they stood for a larger truth.

Gorn obviously has sympathy for Jones and does a good job of putting her life in its context, but this book is no easy read. It is written in the dry verbiage and cadences of academia.

An unequivocally positive addition to the library of labor history, but don't try to read it at night before bed unless your aim is to hasten sleep.

That was too harsh. The book is worth slogging through. Mother Jones led a genuinely American life. She's the kind of icon that still holds up three and four generations later. She also coined my two most favoritest labor union slogans:

"Don't Mourn, Organize!"


"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!"

They remind me of what the early leaders of American labor put on the line to get so much of what we take for granted today. These giants --- these miners and truckers and automakers and needleworkers and longshoremen and all the rest --- won us:

Child labor laws,
Health and safety regulation,
Decent wages,
the right to organize.

The weekend.
Health Insurance.

Many of these are threatened today.

Read this speech by Mother.

Then pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.

There are elections next week and Big Elections in 2008.

The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.

A necessary, but not sufficient, next step is voting.

Ultimately, we will all be judged by our behavior toward the least among us.


mielikki said...

All so very true. To delve into her life fully would have taken me hours, and pages to blog, but her, and others like her, are the reason why we are the way today.

Churlita said...

Awesome post. If there's one thing I've always stressed to my daughters it's be aware. Just because you might be doing okay, there are millions out there who aren't.

Bubblewench said...

Very awesome post DIDC!