November 30 Mother Jones passes at 100

November 30, 2017

On this day in labor history, the year was 1930. That was the day the world lost the miners’ angel, Mother Jones. She had crossed the country many times over, been involved in practically every strike that built the labor movement; stood with miners and steel workers and mill children everywhere. Mother Jones had asked to be buried with the Virden Martyrs, killed in the Massacre of 1898, at Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois. Dozens of labor leaders including AFL president William Green, attended her funeral in Maryland, where she had been living. Then, AFL representatives, several Illinois miners and others boarded the Baltimore and Ohio train to accompany her body to Mt. Olive. Historian Dale Fetherling describes the scene as her body arrived. A band played “Nearer, My God, To Thee” as onlookers bowed their heads and wept. Survivors of the Virden Riot bore the casket to the Odd Fellows’ Hall where it lay in state… The town of 3,500 with its strong and violent heritage, was thronged by thousands of coal diggers.” At least 15,000 turned out for the funeral, broadcast on WCFL, the Chicago Federation of Labor’s radio station. The labor priest, Reverend John Maguire gave the memorial address and officiated at the funeral in Mt. Olive’s Roman Catholic Church of the Ascension. He asked: “What weapons had she to fight the fight against oppression of working men? Only a great and burning conviction that oppression must end. Only an eloquent and flaming tongue that won men to her cause. Only a mother’s heart torn by the suffering of the poor. Only a towering courage that made her carry on in the face of insuperable odds. Only a consuming love for the poor.”

 

 

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