On today’s Labor Calendar, Transit Workers Local 689 will host a Cocktail Hour & Movie tonight from 5 to 9 pm at the union hall in Forestville, Maryland. The free event features a screening of "Chocolate City," which explores the rapid gentrification of Washington through the eyes of a group of local women fighting to return to their neighborhood.
And from 5 to 6pm tonight, local singer/songwriters Peter and Steve Jones will perform labor songs and music on WPFW's Live at 5’s new monthly Labor Sings edition; I’ll be hosting that and am really looking forward to it!
Then this Labor Day weekend, local Jewish congregations will celebrate working people’s issues in the annual Labor on the Bimah program coordinated by Jews United for Justice. Go to jufj.org for the complete list of services, at which all are welcome.
As always, you can go to dclabor.org and click on Calendar for full details on the local labor calendar.
Here’s today’s labor history:
On this date in 1949, more than 140 attendees at a benefit for a civil rights group were injured in the “Peekskill Riots” in Peekskill, New York. The victims were among the 20,000 people leaving a concert featuring African-American Paul Robeson, well-known for his strong pro-unionism, civil rights activism and left-wing affiliations. The departing concert-goers had to drive through a miles-long gauntlet of rock-throwing racists chanting racial epithets.
And in 1991, in what many believe was to become the longest strike in U.S. history, 600 Teamster-represented workers walked out at the Diamond Walnut processing plant in Stockton, California, after the company refused to restore a 30-percent pay cut they had earlier taken to help out the company. The two sides ultimately agreed to a new contract after 14 years.
Today’s labor quote is by Paul Robeson, from his 1958 book, “Here I Stand”:
“Hard-working people, and poor, most of them, in worldly goods–but how rich in compassion! How filled with the goodness of humanity and the spiritual steel forged by centuries of oppression! There was the honest joy of laughter in these homes, folk-wit and story, hearty appetites for life as for the nourishing greens and black-eyed peas and cornmeal bread they shared with me. Here in this little hemmed-in world where home must be theater and concert hall and social center, there was a warmth of song. Songs of love and longing, songs of trials and triumphs, deep-flowing rivers and rollicking brooks, hymn song and ragtime ballad, gospels and blues, and the healing comfort to be found in the illimitable sorrow of the spirituals. Yes, I heard my people singing!”