By Alan Schultz
Whether you recognize May 1st as “May Day,” “International Workers Day,“ or “A Day With Out Latinxs & Immigrants,” you’ll find revolutionary change at the heart of it. May 1st, 1886, is largely recognized for a nationwide strike called for by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (the precursor to the American Federation of Labor) in their demand for an 8 hour work day. In this era it was not uncommon to have children of elementary school age working 10 to 16 hour days 7 days a week. 400,000 people took to the streets in Chicago on May Day alone.
Tragedy struck though, on May 3rd, 1886, when, during a massive rally at Haymarket Square in Chicago a bomb was thrown into a crowd of police officers. One died immediately, 6 others were also fatally wounded, and another 70 or so were injured. The police opened fired on the rally goers and to this day there remains no knowledge of how many lives were lost in total. In the aftermath, a political witch-hunt was conducted. Eight men -all anarchists or socialists- were arrested and tried in front of a rigged court. Four of the men were executed by hanging, one committed suicide while in prison, and the last three were pardoned six years after their conviction in 1887. Of the four men hanged, one was Albert Parsons, a white radical and prominent political figure, who was married to Lucy Parsons, the famous black/chicana/indigenous anarchist, who later went on to be part of the inaugural founding of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905. Continue reading “May First”