This week marked the 100th Anniversary of the Bread & Roses Strike, also known as the Singing Strike, which began on January 12, 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. On this day thousands of textile workers began a walkout after a new law reduced the maximum working hours per week for women and children, significantly reducing the household incomes for those families.
The strike gained national media attention after the Lawrence City police and militia forcibly prevented striking textile workers from sending their children to cities offering safe shelter and care. Dozens of mothers and their children were arrested, and some injured, while boarding trains heading out of town. This garnered national sympathy for the strikers and resulted in a federal investigation.
The strike also built strong multicultural support networks in the labour community. Striking workers represented 24 nationalities speaking 20 different languages worked together on the strike committees and marched side-by-side on the picket lines.
The Zinn Education Project has put together a fabulous virtual exhibit on the Bread & Roses Strike at http://exhibit.breadandrosescentennial.org/
This past week also marked the 1 year Anniversary of the founding of the Workers History Museum.
On January 10th, 2011 the Workers History Museum held its first Annual General Meeting, electing 11 members to the Board of Directors, establishing 3 working committees, and adopting its mandate and by-laws. As we enter our second year, the WHM continues to dedicate its efforts to bringing you stories like the Bread & Roses Strike and developing exhibits and preservation initiatives on labour and workers history in the National Capital Region.