Happy May Day! You know how India has all these holidays that are very regional specific and how neat that is? Well, May Day is an international holiday now, but it started right in my hometown, so I thought I should celebrate it. And I don’t have the day off work, so I can’t join the many many many protests. But I can do a theme post!
In 1886, Chicago was fomenting with rebellion. It was the largest manufacturing city in America, and the workers were organizing to demand a better life. Their specific demand was an 8 hour work day. There were some other high minded demands as well, some of them related to immigrant rights. Chicago was filled with immigrants, most of them from the German regions of Europe which were in decline and people were streaming away from them, including intellectuals and activists.
Anyway, the first weekend in May there was a huge rally at Haymarket Square in Chicago. Someone threw a bomb at the mounted policemen. The police responded by shooting into the crowd, killing 4 random protesters. Another 7 protesters were arrested and put on trial, many feeling they were wrongfully accused. It was a whole thing.
(Here’s a picture of the “Haymarket Martyrs” on a poster for last year’s Chicago May day event. As you can see, it’s still all about the workers and the struggle)
May Day was already an international unofficial holiday in temperate climates, basically our Spring planting/fertility festival. And now Haymarket made it into a commemoration of workers’ rights, general civil rights movements versus state authority.
Speaking of which, before going any further, here are some groups you can donate to in honor of May Day:
National People’s Action: a local group! Well, started in Chicago, back in the 1970s when community organizing in our city was exploding again, it is a now a national group dedicated to training and organizing grassroots activists. Donate HERE
United We Dream: A group dedicated to ethical treatment of immigrants in America, needed now more than ever. They provide access to training, legal assistance, and are on the frontlines of political action. Donate HERE
And if you want to march in America, a tool to find your local protest is HERE
Okay, now that’s over with, some fun May Day themed songs! To inspire you as you go to protests, or to encourage you to donate to those groups I listed above. It’s all about the workers, right? And organizing against those unjustly in power. So doesn’t matter if the song is from India or America or anywhere else.
And here’s a nice song to remind us all that there is nothing to be afraid of when we organize, we are only asking for our birthrights.
Here’s a song to remind us that even our suffering while protesting can have value, can change people.
And here’s a reminder that Aamir Khan isn’t the only one who makes political statements in his films. And that sometimes protesting can be a patriotic act.
And finally, since it is also an international Communist day, I feel like I should have some Malayalam songs in here. I wish I could find the visuals for this one, but no luck!
Although, communism and socialism and general efforts at improving society are more complicated that they first appear. And I really need to re-watch this film now that I have a slightly better (but still not great) grasp on Kerala politics: