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Socialist Progressives

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TBF

(32,004 posts)
Thu Nov 19, 2015, 05:30 PM Nov 2015

Remembering Joe Hill and his music ~ [View all]

Music was a centerpiece of the Wobbly “movement culture.” However, I wouldn’t say this came into existence with the IWW. Earlier, the abolitionists and the Gilded Age labor movement made singing, songwriting, poetry and other forms of writing a key part of their efforts. Coal miners and Jewish textile workers had already developed a strong working-class poetic and musical tradition, as did the Knights of Labor. So Joe Hill and Woody Guthrie were standing on big shoulders.



Remembering the Life and Music of Labor Agitator Joe Hill, Who Was Executed 100 Years Ago TodayDavid Cochran
11/19/15

Joe Hill saw his music as a weapon in the class war, composing songs to be sung on soapboxes, picket lines or in jail. And 100 years ago today, the forces of capital and the state of Utah executed him.

< snip >

Born Joel Hagglund in Sweden, Hill immigrated to the United States in 1902, changing his name to Joseph Hillstrom, which would eventually be shortened to Joe Hill. Working his way across the country, Hill became politicized, eventually joining the Industrial Workers of the World. Popularly known as the Wobblies, the IWW sought to organize those workers more mainstream unions avoided—the unskilled, migrants, immigrants, minorities—in an effort to combine the entire working class into One Big Union.

As a Wobbly, Hill was active in free speech fights in Fresno and San Diego, a strike of railroad construction workers in British Columbia and even fought in the Mexican Revolution.

In 1914, Hill was arrested in Salt Lake City and charged with killing a storekeeper, allegedly in a botched robbery. Despite the flimsy nature of the evidence, Hill was convicted and sentenced to death, with the prosecutor urging conviction as much on the basis of Hill’s IWW membership as any putative evidence of his involvement in the crime. An international amnesty movement pressed for a new trial, but the Utah governor refused and Hill was executed by firing squad on November 19, 1915. In a final message to IWW General Secretary Bill Haywood, Hill urged, “Don’t waste any time in mourning—organize.”

Much more here - http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/18386/joe-hill-labor-music-execution



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