This celebration included a presentation by Elliot Gorn, author of Mother Jones, The Most Dangerous Woman in America.
December 2002 - Over 200 delighted diners joined and sang a lusty Solidarity Forever at the conclusion of the Union Hall of Honor ceremonies for 2002, held on November 24th. The happy event took place in the historic 19th Century Club of Oak Park.
Inducted into the Union Hall of Honor of the Illinois Labor History Society were Mother Jones and Mollie West. Mother Jones was a frequent visitor to our state. She was in Chicago in 1915 for the garment workers, in Bloomington for the streetcar strike of 1917, in Joliet for the wall paper workers in 1918, and in South Chicago for steelworkers in 1919.
Mollie West was honored for her life-long commitment to working class causes.
Roberta Lynch, Deputy Director of AFSCME Council 31, delivered a powerful speech, including a blistering indictment of American corporate leadership, also a consistent theme of Mother Jones in her day.
Fortunately, Mother Jones visited the event, in the person of AFTRA-SAG member, actress Maureen Steindler. She delivered just such an indictment of the great Milwaukee brewers for their treatment of "slave girls" who donned their wet clothes every day to wash beer bottles under miserable conditions. The speech was written by Mother Jones in 1912.
Comments on the career of Mother Jones were presented by Elliot Gorn, author of Mother Jones, the Most Dangerous Woman in America. Autographed copies of Gorn's book, the newest and most complete biography yet written, were sold at the literature table.
Reverend Addie Wyatt, retired International Vice President of UFCW delivered the invocation.
The program began in the afternoon with an informative slide show about Mother Jones, narrated by Vice-President William Adelman, retired professor of labor history from the University of Illinois and one of the "Roads Scholars" for the Illinois Humanities Council. Adelman also recounted the history of the hall, formerly known as the 19th Century Women's Club of Oak Park. Many of the illustrious progressive thinkers of Mother Jones' era had spoken there. Among them were Carl Sandburg, Henry Demarest Lloyd, and Jane Addams.
Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor, Tim Leahy, presented the Hall of Honor plaque to Mollie West. The mayor of Mt. Olive, IL, Tom Spears, accepted the plaque for Mother Jones from President Les Orear. Spears said it would hang in the Mother Jones museum which the town plans to establish. The musicians were Allen Schwartz and Tim Yeager, both ILHS trustees. Trustee Mike Evers, a Chicago labor attorney, chaired the event.
A big "Thank You" to all the ticket buyers and advertisers who made the annual dinner a financial success, as well as a great celebration.
Many thanks to CAN TV for providing video coverage of our event.