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Friday, September 2, 2011

Remember Saylesville: The Long Memory is the most radical idea in America

By: Pat Crowley from Rhode Island's Future

"The long memory is the most radical idea in the country." Utah Phillips 

On Monday, September 5 there will be a Labor Day rally at the Saylesville Massacre Monument at 11:00 AM. Jim Riley, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 328, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the RI AFL-CIO's largest organization, will speak about our history and the current state of affairs.

The monument is located in Moshassuck Cemetery, 978 Lonsdale Avenue in Central Falls, still the scene of Labor-Management strife. Come and commemorate the martyred activists from the 1934 textile strike, hear blistering talk, and show the world we haven't forgotten our roots and we're not going away.

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Celebrate Labor Day this year by remembering the Great Textile Strike of 1934 and the Battle of the Gravestones .

Join the Rhode Island Labor History Society this Monday at the Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls, 978 Lonsdale Ave, at 11:00 AM for a ceremony remembering the valiant battle waged by the workers against the power of the State and corporate exploitation.
On Labor Day, 1934, a national textile strike began in Rhode Island and spread to southern cloth mills in an attempt to raise wages and improve working conditions during the Great Depression.

The event turned ugly when local management ask for protection at the non-union Sayles Finishing Company. National Guardsmen, with fixed bayonets, confronted hundreds of unarmed strikers and chased them into the Moshassuck Cemetery. Ironically, union picketers too cover behind headstones in the graveyard. The bullet holes remain dozens of stones to this day. Strife there lasted almost three weeks resulting in the injury and wounding of hundreds of protesters and the deaths of several others. The strike would erupt in violence in Woonsocket as well.

In this period of the Great Recession, let's remember the struggle of our ancestors and learn the lessons of the past. Pay homage to those who made sacrifices so long ago so that we, their grand children, could have a better life. And in doing, we must learn to mobilize in a very different world to maintain the food life that our families fought and died for.