"Whenever there has been movements or resistance, there have always been arts and music," Carlos Jimenez, the executive director of the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO, told the record crowd of over 200 artists, activists, and musicians who attended last Saturday night’s Power of Song concert at the Great Labor Arts Exchange (GLAE). The event, part celebration, part conference and training, has been held annually for nearly four decades at what is now the Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. In addition to the music, GLAE featured multiple panels and workshops including "Out at Work," a panel about the LGBT community's experience in the workplace and "Building a Vocal Community," Ysaye Barnwell’s workshop focusing on African-American spirituals. The 2017 Arts Exchange culminated with an unprecedented concert of nearly a dozen choral groups from across North America coming together to sing "Solidarity Forever," which John Paul Wright, a labor singer, organizer and Locomotive Engineers union member, called an "unforgettable moment." Exhausted but exuberant, Arts Exchange organizer Elise Bryant, Executive Director of the Labor Heritage Foundation, said afterward that "Never have so many social justice activists, and laborers come together in one place to celebrate the importance of arts and music and the spoken word in support of the labor movement."
- Mack Miller; photos by Matt Losak; check out more photos here.