Today in Labor History September 25th

Lewis Hines

American photographer Lewis Hine was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States. – 1874

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Lewis Hine was born, African-American sharecroppers strike,  and John Howard Lawson was born.” quote=”Lewis Hine was born, African-American sharecroppers strike,  and John Howard Lawson was born.”]

A group of African-American sharecroppers in Lee County, Arkansas perhaps loosely affiliated with the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Union (commonly call the Colored Farmers’ Alliance), struck to increase the wages they received from local planters for picking cotton. By the time a white mob put down the strike, 15 African-Americans and one white plantation manager were killed. – 1891

Playwright John Howard Lawson was born on this date in New York City. Lawson wrote several plays about the working class, including The International (1928), which depicts a world revolution by the proletariat, and Marching Song (1937), about a sit-down strike. He was for several years head of the Hollywood division of the Communist Party USA. He was also the organization’s cultural manager and answered directly to V.J. Jerome, the Party’s New York-based cultural chief. He was the first president of the Writers Guild of America, West after the Screen Writers Guild divided into two regional organizations. In the late 1940s, Lawson was blacklisted as a member of the “Hollywood Ten” for his refusal to tell the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his political allegiances. – 1894

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1 thought on “Today in Labor History September 25th”

  1. John Howard Lawson
    American playwright
    Written By: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
    Last Updated: Sep 21, 2019 See Article History
    John Howard Lawson, (born Sept. 25, 1894, New York City—died Aug. 11, 1977, San Francisco), U.S. playwright, screenwriter, and member of the “Hollywood Ten,” who was jailed (1948–49) and blacklisted for his refusal to tell the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his political allegiances.
    Lawson’s early works, such as Roger Bloomer (1923) and Processional (1925), are notable examples of Expressionism. He later portrayed problems of the working class: The International (1928) depicts a world revolution of the proletariat; Marching Song (1937) concerns a sit-down strike. Lawson’s plays emphasize ideology and innovation and are powerful and effective.
    During the 1930s and 1940s Lawson devoted his time to the movies. He wrote such scripts as Action in the North Atlantic (1943) and Sahara (1943) and was the co-founder and first president of the Screen Writers Guild. This new employment led to Theory and Technique of Playwriting and Screenwriting (1949), a revised edition of his earlier Theory and Technique of Playwriting (1936).
    In the late 1940s the uproar over alleged Communist influence in the motion picture industry led to his jail sentence and the blacklisting of Lawson in Hollywood. These events reaffirmed Lawson’s interest in American cultural tradition, explored in The Hidden Heritage: A Rediscovery of the Ideas and Forces That Link the Thought of Our Time with the Culture of the Past (1950).

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