Today in labor history, July 14, 1921: Italian immigrants, labor activists, and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted in Massachusetts of murder and payroll robbery after a two-month trial, and are eventually executed, despite the efforts of the IWW and other unions to save them. Fifty years after their deaths the state’s governor issued a proclamation saying they had been treated unjustly and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names.”
Today a Democracy Now! special on the life, politics and music of Woody Guthrie, the “Dust Bowl Troubadour.” Born a hundred years ago on July 14, 1912, in Oklahoma, Guthrie wrote hundreds of folk songs and became a major influence on countless musicians, including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs. While Guthrie is best remembered as a musician, he also had a deeply political side, speaking out for labor and civil rights at the height of McCarthyism.
Lucy Eldine Gonzalez Parsons (born c. 1853 – March 7, 1942) was an American labor organizer and radical socialist. She is remembered as a powerful orator. Described by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” in the 1920s, Parsons and her husband had become highly effective anarchist organizers primarily involved in the labor movement in the late 19th century, but also participating in revolutionary activism on behalf of political prisoners, people of color, the homeless and women.