On this day 100 years ago: Bread and Roses

N.Y. - Lawrence strike meeting (LOC)

N.Y. – Lawrence strike meeting (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

From the Modern School:

September 30, 1912 – The Lawrence, MassachusettsBread and Roses” textile strike was in full swing. On this date, 12,000 textile workers walked out of mills to protest the arrests of two leaders of the strike. Police clubbed strikers and arrested many, while the bosses fired 1,500. IWW co-founder Big Bill Haywood threatened another general strike to get the workers reinstated. Strike leaders Arturo Giovannitti and Joe Ettor were eventually acquitted 58 days later. (From Workday Minnesota)

From Film Threat, via J:


BOOTLEG FILES 259 “People of the Cumberland” (1937 pro-union propaganda short).

LAST SEEN: Available at online vide sites.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: I am not aware of its video release.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A seriously obscure title.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE : It is possible, but not likely at the moment.

“People of the Cumberland” is probably among the most obscure films to be featured in this series – I only first learned of it a few weeks ago, and only then I stumbled over it by accident. But as with many obscure films, it has a strange and fascinating history that deserves attention.

This 20-minute film was the product of Frontier Films, a collaborative effort of left wing creative artists who sought to use motion pictures as a vehicle to spread their political messages. The group had its genesis with the the Worker’s Film and Photo League, a Communist organization created in 1930, which later transformed into Nykino in 1935, before becoming Frontier Films in 1936. The group’s members included prominent independent and avant-garde film leaders of the 1930s, including Willard Van Dyke, Paul Strand and Leo Hurwitz.

Frontier Films wanted to depict aspects of American life where left-of-center political input saved the day. In the case of “People of the Cumberland,” that meant the arrival of labor unions. Although Frontier Films operated without the blessing or backing of any specific union, its pro-union message was loud and clear – or, in the case of this film, it was condensed into the succinct slogan “Get wise, organize!”