Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
This morning 123 women and 23 men will be walking the workers who died in The Triangle Waist Factory Fire home. 146 people, mothers, daughters, workers from all walks of life will gather at 146pm in front of Asch Building on the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street. Dressed in costume, bedecked in veils and wearing a placard with the name of their worker, there will be a short performance of music at the site of the fire featuring Deborah Strauss, Jeff Warschauer, children from the Midtown Workman's Circle Shule and the New Yiddish Chorale.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Many of the young women and men who died in the Triangle Fire, were engaged to be married. One woman had just had her engagement party the night before the fire, before she died. Another worker burned beyond recognition was identified by her fiance by the engagement ring still on her finger.
Then came the love amid the flames. He brought another girl to thewindow. Those of us who were looking saw her put her arms about him and kiss him. Then he held her out into space and dropped her. But quick as a flash he was on the window sill himself. His coat fluttered upward-the air filled his trouser legs. I could see that he wore tan shoes and hose. His hat remained on his head.
Thud-dead, thud-dead-together they went into eternity. I saw his face before they covered it. You could see in it that he was a real man. He had done his best.
We found out later that, in the room in which he stood, many girls were being burned to death by the flames and were screaming in an inferno of flame and heat. He chose the easiest way and was brave enough to even help the girl he loved to a quicker death, after she had given him a goodbye kiss. He leaped with an energy as if to arrive first in that mysterious land of eternity, but her thud-dead came first."
After we walk our 146 sweatshop workers home on Sunday, March 27th, we will all congregate at the Eldridge Street Synagogue for an afternoon of music and poetry written by the Yiddish sweatshop poets about the relentless soul crushing grind of life in the factory. One of Morris Rosenfeld's poems, To My Beloved, tells the tale of a factory worker with no time to spend in the arms of his beloved as they are both at work all day long.
It hums, it boils, it burns, it seethes
There is no place for you – o go-
I hired out my arms and hands;
I cannot now embrace you – no!
And though without you I am dead
I must demand of you - please go
Here rules the struggle harsh for bread
And I must tremble when I sew.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The talented photographer Louie Correia will be taking individual portraits of each of our 146 walkers. Here are some portraits of sweatshop workers for inspiration.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Women's History Month begins today and this year throughout the country, there are hundreds of events devoted to the memory of the sweatshop workers who died in The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911. All of these events from concerts, musicals, plays, readings, lectures, demonstrations and more are listed at www.rememberthetrianglefire.org, the website run by The Triangle Fire Coalition. This extraordinary organization made up of a handful of dedicated people has been working tirelessly for several years to memorialize the victims of the fire and to educate us about the many reforms it inspired.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
March 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire where 146 garment workers, mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women and teenage girls, were burned to death on the locked upper floors of a sweatshop in Greenwich Village. These immigrants came to this country in search of a better life. They worked 12 hours a day or more, at least six days a week to support their families. The youngest victim was 16. Six of the burned bodies were only identified this year. This tragedy was a major catalyst for change in labor and safety laws in this country and is an important date in New York, feminist and labor history.
Together with the Museum at Eldridge Street Museum, we are organizing a procession of 146 people, each one representing a sweatshop worker at the turn of the last century who lost her life in the fire. A list of the victims names is available here.
On Sunday, March 27, 2011, at 1.46pm we will walk from the site of the Triangle Fire near NYU to the Eldridge Street Synagogue on the lower east side, the neighborhood where many of these workers lived. The march will represent the walk home the victims of the Triangle Fire were never able to make. Each walker will wear a plaque with the name, age, address and death date of the worker she is commemorating. We will then enter the synagogue around 3pm and stand on the second floor women’s balcony.
The performer and Yiddish translator Caraid O'Brien will talk about the Sweatshop Poets, a group of early twentieth century Yiddish artists who worked by day in the sweatshops of New York City and wrote poetry at night about their lives. Actors will perform some of the poetry in Yiddish and English. The acclaimed klezmer musicians Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss will perform several songs based on the work of the Sweatshop Poets. The program will end as all of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory performers file to the front of the room, light a memorial candle, say their name and age and leave the synagogue as images from the fire are projected on a screen.
Several groups have joined us in taking part in the procession including Todo con Nada, Treehouse Shakers, World Fellowship, The New Yiddish Chorale, Media for Social Profit and The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. We are still looking for a few performers to join the walk. If you are interested send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org