May Day in the Park

Human bees! Has nature’s thrift
Given thee naught but honey’s gift?
See! the drones are on the wing.
Have you lost the will to sting?


Man of labor, up, arise!
Know the might that in thee lies,
Wheel and shaft are set at rest
At thy powerful arm’s behest.


– An excerpt from Albert Parsons speech to the court after being wrongfully convicted for the Haymarket bombing.

May 1st is May Day.

The Haymarket Affair is generally considered significant as the origin of International Workers’ Day held on May 1, and it was also the climax of the social unrest among the working class in America known as the Great Upheaval.

According to labor historian William J. Adelman:

“No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the event accurately or point out its significance.”

For a more detailed look into the Haymarket affair, check out this episode and show notes from Crimethinc. We also link to key episodes of Working Class History, a podcast about all of those who have fought for a better world, for more about the labor struggle more generally.

For a very deatiled history of the labor sturggle here in Grays Harbor County check out The IWW History Project, or this blog article entitled Grays Harbor Workers: Aaron Goings on “The Port of Missing Men” and followup article from The Daily World. Also, this review of Aaron Going’s previous book, ‘The Red Coast, Radicalism and Anti-Radicalism in Southwest Washington’ by Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes and Roger Snider.

Crimethinc Ex-Worker Podcast #1: Haymarket and the History of Mayday


In this first episode, hosts Alanis and Clara explore the 1886 Haymarket affair and the anarchist roots of Mayday. Also includes news from resistance around the world, a profile of the Lucy Parsons Center in Boston, a review of the journal Modern Slavery, upcoming events, and more.

Notes and Links

  • If you’d like to learn more about the Haymarket anarchists and the history of Mayday, start with the court speeches of the eight defendants. They provide fascinating insight into the politics and analysis of the anarchist movement at the time. Labor historian James Green’s Death in the Haymarket and anarchist historian Paul Avrich’s The Haymarket Tragedy provide detailed surveys of the the time period, events, and aftermath. In his books The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists and The Haymarket Conspiracy, Professor Timothy Messer-Kruse provides a detailed challenge to the widely held consensus that their conviction was a travesty of justice, arguing that the evidence actually documents a violent anarchist conspiracy and that the trial was not notably unfair by the standards of the day. Martin Duberman’s novel Haymarket dramatizes the events through the lens of Lucy and Albert Parsons’ relationship. A delightful array of sources from contemporary news accounts and cartoons to essays analyzing every angle of the case and its impact can be found in Franklin Rosemont and David Roediger’s Haymarket Scrapbook. Phillip Foner’s Mayday: A Short History traces the evolution of the holiday from its origins in the Haymarket affair.
  • Excerpts from a PBS documentary on the history of Chicago discussing the Haymarket events: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
  • Amy Goodman interviews Professor James Green on the history of Haymarket and Mayday today: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
  • A zine on Haymarket featuring Louis Adamic on class violence and the Workers Solidarity Movement celebrating Mayday, produced by Haymarket
  • Mailing address for political prisoner Alvaro Luna Hernandez:
    Hughes Unit
    Rt. 2, Box 4400
    Gatesville, TX 76597
  • The Lucy Parsons Center
  • Modern Slavery: A Libertarian Critique of Civilization
  • Music for The Ex-Worker provided by Underground Reverie

Working Class History Highlighted Episodes:

Women’s history

Playlist of our episodes which are predominantly about radical women’s history.


Our series of podcast episodes about the history of the revolution Industrial Workers of the World union.

E12: The League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit

Episode about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit in the late 60s/early 70s, in conversation with Herb Boyd, author of Black Detroit and former member of the group, and Dan Georgakas, author of Detroit I Do Mind Dying.

E20: The Exotic Dancers Union

Podcast episode about the workers at the Lusty Lady strip club in San Francisco who in 1997 were the first women who managed to unionise a strip joint in the United States, and who later took it over and ran it as a workers’ co-operative.

E27-29: Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners

Our latest podcast miniseries this Pride month is about Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners, a small group of LGBTQ people in London who began to raise money for striking workers in the Welsh valleys during the great miners’ strike of 1984-5. Unknown to them at the time, they would end up transforming both communities, and Britain as a whole.

Ep 25: Worker Revolts: From Pyramid Shut-ins to Bombing Westminister Working Class History

Civilization has always been a clash between the working class and the ruling class. Throughout history, the working class has frequently fought back against the ruling class and sometimes they won!  On Today’s episode, Working Class History talks about the History of Working Class Fighting Back for Better Rights!

E7: The West Virginia mine wars, 1902-1922

In this episode we head to Matewan, West Virginia to speak with Catherine Moore and others from the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, as well as some striking West Virginia teachers about the conflicts, and how they are remembered today.