Today I have heard of a most impressive speech given by the ever-influential I.W.W. organizer, Bill Haywood at Lyric Hall[RH1]. The man was speaking on a very important issue in the United States today, one which plagues our dignity as a people in terms of morality and civility. Too many are on the streets and starving, with inadequate access to the proper amount of nutrition and other basic human necessities. As Hayward and I see eye to eye on the effort of his organization in the Industrial Workers of the World, which he has phrased as “the Continental Congress of the Working Class”, [RH2]I must also applaud his effort to promote yet another important social change. Hayward has suggested to the poor and starving that they cease to subject themselves to this social unfairness, and fight for their lives by organizing, and taking the basic necessities that they are entitled to. Hayward argues that to not take this action would be to commit suicide, and thus go against the law of this country. [RH3]
His speech has reminded me that activism is crucial, now more than ever, in making sure that our nation thrives and progresses in the years to come. As Elizabeth Flynn has stated, “The I.W.W. has been accused of putting women in the front. The truth is, the I.W.W. does not keep them in the back, and they go to the front.”[RH4] This is an undeniable of example of what can be accomplished when we cease to underestimate each other and what we can produce when we come together. Organization is key, and though some are organized in the efforts of another sort, such as the capitalists and those involved in the American Federation of Labor for example, it can all be overcome. With statements such as, “Any man who pays more for labor than the lowest sum he can get them for is robbing his stockholders,” [RH5]it is a wonder to me that anyone can follow or support the ideas and initiatives of men like Samuel Gompers and others like him to monopolize the working industries. It takes the efforts of Bill Hayward and other brave people to stand up for one another and fight for what is right, whether it be through joining a labor union, making a difference regardless of one’s gender, or by forming an organization to collect food to survive, I have come to the conclusion that we could all contribute to a better and more secure country by taking “Big Bill’s” lead.
(From the perspective of Dorothy Day)
[RH1]From the New York Times article Seize Food, Says Hayward. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50C10FF3D5E13738DDDAB0894DB405B848DF1D3
[RH2]From the textbook, page 41—Hayward’s quote regarding the I.W.W. Full quote: “This is the Continental Congress of the working class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism.”