It's time to start planning for it!
Joe Hill is remembered today, almost a hundred years after he died.
The song remembering him has been recorded by many artists including Joan Baez, Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, and the Irish folk group The Dubliners.
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead,"
"I never died," says he.
I can't forget the sweet sound of Joan Baez singing those lines!
Joe Hill is remembered because he was a martyr to the cause of the working man. Just after the turn of the century, the 1% was in full control of America. In 1914, the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards killed between 19 and 25 men, women and children in a massacre to stop their strike. In 1927, unarmed miners were attacked with machine guns in the Columbine Massacre. Six strikers were killed. But before that, Joe Hill was murdered by the State of Utah at the Utah prison in front of a firing squad.
Joe was a working man and an advocate for the cause of working men. He knew the back breaking work in the mines and on the docks. But he also knew how to reach hearts and minds with his songs and poetry. He was killed because he was reaching them too well.
Long-haired preachers come out every night
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
They will answer in voices so sweet
You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You'll get pie in the sky when you die
When he came to Salt Lake City, the long haired preachers there couldn't stand the competition. One night, a policeman was shot and killed in a store he owned. Joe Hill didn't even know him and the policeman had lots of enemies. After 12 other people were arrested and charged with the murder, someone realized that this would be a perfect way to get rid of Joe Hill. Joe himself described what happened best, "Owing to the prominence of Mr. Morrison [the policeman], there had to be a 'goat' and the undersigned being, as they thought, a friendless tramp, a Swede, and worst of all, an IWW [International Workers of the World - the union], had no right to live anyway, and was therefore duly selected to be 'the goat'."
And so, Utah killed Joe Hill almost a hundred years ago. Ninety-seven years, to be more precise. In three years and change, the centennial of Joe Hill's death will be celebrated by those of us in the 99% dedicated to throwing off the yoke of the rich.
Joe Hill's body was cremated and scattered to the winds around the world. In a letter to a friend before he died, he wrote, "Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don't want to be found dead in Utah." But the site of his execution is now a public park: Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. It's the perfect site for a public memorial to a great man who died for us. Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it and the 1% are reaching for power again.
Start telling your legislators, your friends and your co-workers that there should be a memorial to Joe Hill in Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City.