I have been thinking a lot about Mother Jones lately. She chose Macoupin County as her final resting place. She may have been the most effective labor agitator in our history. Writer and poet, Upton Sinclair wrote “she was the walking wrath of God”. Even in her death in 1930 she made a statement. The last march she led was to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice by asking to “sleep beneath the clay with those brave boys” in Union Miner’s Cemetery in Mt. Olive. Those brave boys were mineworkers killed in a gun battle with company guards during the Virden Massacre in 1898.
Newspaper accounts report there were 40,000 people present to pay homage to this great woman when her casket arrived from Maryland. Six years later, when the monument was erected in her name was dedicated, a reported crowd of 50,000 were there to honor her.
I could continue telling about her but I write to offer things we can learn from this very special woman. She felt there was no shame in going to jail for justice. She used street theater, protest marches, and uncompromising speech to promote the rights of workers and those oppressed by an uncaring government. She wrote letters, held public meetings, and wrote articles for every publication that would print them. Hers was a life of activism as she gave thunderous voice to the voiceless, courage to the fearful, and hope to the hopeless.
We can learn from her by imitating her actions which were guided less by the brain and more by the heart. We must become very angry. Her anger drove her to action. She was not one to simply debate or complain. She marched. To this day, the United Mineworkers of America use many of her tactics and we democrats should as well.
Every parade should be a protest march rather than only being a showcase of smiling democrats passing out candy. We need protest signs on our parade vehicles, the addition of a coffin and or/symbols of one with walkers carrying signs saying, “Save your healthcare”. Angry rallies with grim reapers present, coffins, and protest signs should appear outside our absent congressman’s office. In addition to picketing his office we should hold town hall meetings with a cardboard cutout of our absent congressman, adopt the image of a coffin and/or real ones to make the point so many will die without adequate healthcare. Hell, organize a parade or caravan with a coffin or coffins in all Macoupin county communities to make our point. Begin thinking with your heart and become angry, be ready to go to jail for justice, and most of all do less talking and think action.
I will be traveling to the Shandon district of Cork City Ireland this summer to the birthplace of Mother Jones to participate in the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival. I will write about this amazing festival, the reason why I will be on the agenda and more about Mother Jones later.