28.8.15

Με το φακό της Ιστορίας



"Κατακτήστε αυτό που θέλετε από μόνοι σας και απευθείας! Δεν είμαι μια ανθρωπίστρια , είμαι μια "κολασμένη επαναστάτρια!".
Απόσπασμα από την  ομιλία της  ακτιβίστριας  Mother Jones (1837-1930) στους απεργούς ανθρακωρύχους στη δυτική Βιρτζίνια , το 1912 . Υπήρξε μια  ατρόμητη αγωνίστρια  σχετικά με  τα δικαιώματα και την ασφάλεια των εργαζομένων αλλά και  των αξιοπρεπών συνθηκών διαβίωσης για σκληρά  εργαζόμενες οικογένειες.
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Mother Jones Famous Speech Friday: Mother Jones Speaks Before Striking West Virginia Miners

(Editor's note: During Women's History Month, we're focusing on famous historic speeches by women. Here, writer Becky Ham tackles the inimitable Mother Jones. I love that the only reason we have a transcript of this speech is because the mine owners hired a stenographer, hoping to charge Jones with inciting dangerous behavior.) Taking charge of your own introduction is one way to get a speech off to a good start, so I'll let Mary Harris "Mother" Jones offer her own intro here. Once welcomed as a "great humanitarian" before a crowd gathered to hear her speak, Jones was quick to correct: "Get it straight. I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser!"

It was her speeches that made Mother Jones "the most dangerous woman in America"--dubbed so by a West Virginia attorney. For nearly 50 years, the labor activist traveled the country to be the voice of child mill workers, deported Mexican workers, steelworkers and most famously coal miners. After her husband and all four of her children died from yellow fever in 1867, she took up the cause of labor after she and many others lost everything in Chicago's Great Fire of 1871.

She took charge of more than her introductions. Historians believe she crafted her "Mother" persona right down her old fashioned, lace-trimmed black dresses and spectacles. She claimed to be much older than she really was, and she called her audiences "my boys," alternately hectoring them and sweet-talking them into fighting for better working conditions. The grandmotherly pose did much to free her from the era's expectations for women--particularly the expectation that they should not speak in public, and certainly not in the inflammatory tone that Jones used to rouse a crowd.

Her speeches can come across as rambling and bombastic today, but they worked well in an age without microphones or recordings, when the connection between speaker and audience was intimate. Contemporaries said the intensity of her voice almost could be felt physically. And Jones spoke with one goal in mind--to call her audience to immediate action. She used aggressive and coarse language to incite, rather than to reason. And she was not above name-calling and humor to draw a sharp line between her boys and the company men.
One of her most famous speeches took place in 1912 at a public meeting in Charleston, West Virginia, as Kanawha County coal companies clashed with unionized miners over a new contract. Her words survive because the mine operators had hired a stenographer to take down her public remarks, with the hopes that they could be used to portray her as a violent agitator.

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