Thursday, April 30, 2015

May Day-workers holiday- still celebrated by some people in Wichita

Each year, members of the Peace and Social Justice Center, here in Wichita, Kansas, put on a May Day event. The Center has a lot of progressive members who are interested in labor issues. There are some who are democratic socialists, while others are interested in the history of May Day, the international workers holiday
The origins of the workers holiday come from a strike against the Cyrus McCormick Company, starting on May Day 1867. McCormick produced 1,500 reapers in 1849 and by 1884 he was producing 80,000. The reapers were made by members of the Molders Union Local 23. The union went on strike, starting the Eight Hour Movement. This started a movement across the country for the establishment of a standard eight hour work day. Strikes were the main weapon of the unions. Many of them turned violent as industrialist, such as McCormick, used the Pinkerton Detective Agency as well as federal troops to try and break the strikes.
Eventually the unions won and today we have a standard eight hour work day. The workers holiday was intended to celebrate that labour victory. As time went on the holiday spread worldwide and was celebrated all over Europe. After the Russian Revolution the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries adopted May Day as an official labour celebration—a workers holiday. Since that time the holiday has been celebrated by Marxists, anarchists and other left-wing groups of people.
In the US, Labour Day has been moved to the fall and its original meaning, the celebration of union victories has been replaced as a simple holiday to celebrate labour. May Day has since been designated as Law Day, by our political establishment.
Still, there are groups of people across the US who still celebrate May Day as a worker’s holiday. Many people and parties use the holiday to try to educate people on labour related issues, such as the union struggles of the last century.
This year the May Day celebration will start at 5:30pm with a pot-luck dinner. It will be held at the Peace and Social Justice Center, 1407 N. Topeka, in down town Wichita.
This year Peace Center activist Bill Anderson will speak on his part of a Witness for Peace delegation to Honduras in January. They focused on looking into the causes of migration, especially of women and children out of Honduras seeking refuge in the U.S.
Also speaking will be Janice Bradley; will discuss taking part in a delegation of 150 people joining CODEPINK co-founders in Cuba to mark the thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The presentations will begin at 6:45.

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