Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Women's History Month Begins

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.

I attended an open meeting last week organized by The Triangle Fire Coalition and there were about 80 people in the room from many different labor, fire, cultural, religious and political institutions across the city getting ready for their events this month. There are almost 100 events happening this month in New York alone. It was clear in that room that the collective tribute to the worst workplace disaster in New York City before 9-11, will lift and transform the spirit and energy of our city and hopefully influence and change the outrageous anti-union sentiments taking place in Wisconsin and in other places throughout the USA. That such an explosion of creative expression in all its many forms has become the vehicle to spread the word about our shared labor and feminist history and our hopes for its future is an unprecedented moment in our country and an opportunity for all of our city's artists and residents to witness and take part in.

Together with the Museum at Eldridge Street, on Sunday March 27, 2011 we are organizing a walk of 146 sweatshop workers from the site of the fire by Washington Square Park to the Eldridge Street Synagogue for an a tribute of poetry, music and labor speeches in both Yiddish and English. The women and men who have signed up to represent one of the workers who died in the fire are from all walks of life - writers, activists, teachers, lawyers, judges, professors, actors, musicians, booksellers, secretaries and students, ranging in age from 11 to over 70. We are still looking for a couple dozen more women and men to take on the memory of one of the machine operators who died in the shirtwaist factory fire. If you would like to take part in this event, send an email to caraidobrien@gmail.com

For those of you, who have already signed up to take part, we will be blogging daily with information about our March 27th event, ways to research the person you are portraying and how to find out more about life for workers in New York City a hundred years ago. A good place to start would be to watch the PBS American Experience Documentary about the fire which you can see on their website at pbs.org or by clicking here.

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