Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eugene IWW: Soapbox Speaking

A group of local citizens and the Lane Branch of the IWW are sponsoring a local commemoration of the 1910-1911 free speech movement because of the Lane County connection. In 1911 over 250 Northwest workers concerned about the curtailment of free speech rights in Fresno, California and other cities assembled in Portland to travel by box car to Fresno in Jan. and Feb. of 1911 with stops in Eugene and other Oregon cities. In Ashland, Oregon they were forced off the train and proceeded to walk over the snow covered Siskiyous. The event would center on Prof. Mullen's presentation will include period labor songs performed by local musicians and actual “soapboxing.”


100 Years Ago,On February 16, 1911, over a hundred members of the IWW left Portland on freight trains bound for Fresno, The group consisted of young working men willing to die for free speech. They risked being beaten by strike breakers. Nearly a hundred Wobblies made the hazardous trek south by foot through the snow-covered Siskiyous after being kicked out of the box cars in Ashland. By the end ot their trek the they had walked roughly 150 miles across the frozen Siskiyous.
Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice has a campaign to create a Wobbly Free Speech Monument be placed in the mountains along their historic route to commemorate and immortalize these workers virtuous trek.
“...men of conviction who voluntarily, for the cause of free speech, hit-the-grits and disappeared into the snowfall to confront possible death, not in the face of hostile gunfire, but in the face of an indifferent nature’s blizzard.”
~ Jay Mullen

Jay Mullen will be giving a presentation on this history. The event will take place on Thurs. March 3rd/7 pm Willamette 100/U of O campus

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