Today in Labor History – May 4th

Haymarket Square
Haymarket Square

A day after police killed four striking workers and injured hundreds, protesters gathered at Haymarket Square in Chicago. As the peaceful event drew to a close, a bomb was thrown into the police line, killing one officer and injuring several. Police responded by shooting into the crowd, killing one and wounding many. Eight anarchists were later framed even though most were not even present at the Haymarket rally and there was no evidence that linked any of them to the bombing. Four were hanged, one committed suicide and three were eventually pardoned by Illinois Gov. John Peter Altgeld. The Haymarket affair gave the pretext for a national witch hunt against anarchists and labor radicals and ended the quick rise of the Knights of Labor, a predecessor to the IWW. The Knights of Labor had been growing rapidly, attracting radicals and anarchist members. They professed solidarity with all workers, regardless of race or ethnicity. – 1886

The “Freedom Ride” bus trips began throughout the American South. The Freedom Rides were organized by James Farmer and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to desegregate bus terminals. On May 14, the first freedom bus was attacked. – 1961

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