Today is May 1st, celebrated across the world as International Workers’ Day, held to commemorate labor demonstrations and strikes which brought us such victories as the eight-hour work day, weekends and safety protections. Original May Day celebrations commemorated the Haymarket Affair in the late 1800s, which led to several union organizers being executed.
In the United States, the history of May Day has been deliberately glossed over, and is not recognized by our government. In recent years, however, our friends and comrades in the struggle for immigrant justice have uplifted its significance and we remember the events on May Day in 2006 as one of the greatest mass mobilizations of demonstrations and work-stoppages in the last several decades.
This year, we are spending our May Day socially-distant, but across the country, activists and labor groups are finding new and creative ways to raise their voices in place of physical gatherings and demonstrations. From London to Jakarta, Tunis to Cape Town, and Tijuana to Tierra del Fuego, May Day will spark demonstrations and activism across the globe. Check out these photos from 2019.
This May Day, we are reminded of the people who fought and died for the right to organize and have a real say in our working conditions. As August Spies, union organizer and martyr of the Haymarket Affair said in Court before being sentenced to death: “Here we will tread upon a spark, but there, and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.”