Wednesday, November 12, 2003

‘Free Speech’ fight draws on militant history By J.A. Thompson
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 10/22/03
HOMESTEAD, Pa. – With post-9/11 attacks on civil liberties running amok, nearly a hundred marchers poured out of the historic Carnegie Library here recently, heading off on a “Free Speech March” where they would stop along the way to honor three women who made a difference for worker rights and civil liberties in the early 20th century.

Led by folk singer and hell-raiser Anne Feeney, the marchers filled the cool, autumn air with defiant labor chants and songs. Several of the marchers noted the irony of having assembled in the library that the robber baron Andrew Carnegie donated to the community shortly after crushing a steelworkers strike in 1892.

After passing century-old ethnic churches that tower over nearly every street corner in this former steel town, the marchers stopped at the intersection of 9th and Amity, where two state historical markers were dedicated in honor of legendary labor organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones and Frances Perkins, the first woman cabinet member and longest-serving U.S. Secretary of Labor.

The borough council had designated the intersection as “Free Speech Corner” last spring in recognition of the important struggles for labor and civil liberties that took place here, and in anticipation of the marker dedication ceremony.

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