International Workers’ Day

Today is May 1st — May Day — which in addi­tion to mark­ing the Celtic fes­ti­val of Beltane, is also known as Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers’ Day, a cel­e­bra­tion of the inter­na­tion­al labour move­ment.

May Day is often marked by orga­nized street demon­stra­tions and march­es by work­ing peo­ple and their labour unions through­out much of the world. May 1 is a nation­al hol­i­day in more than 80 coun­tries, and is also cel­e­brat­ed unof­fi­cial­ly in many oth­er coun­tries. Today’s pro­gramme cel­e­brates the work­ing peo­ple of the world with a col­lec­tion of folk songs from the labour move­ment, work songs and songs of protest, par­tic­u­lar­ly from Britain and the Unit­ed States.

Wal­ter Crane’s illus­tra­tion shown above, from 1895, cel­e­brates both the tra­di­tion­al May Day and the labour move­ment. Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers’ Day is the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 1886 Hay­mar­ket affair in Chica­go, which occurred after an unknown per­son threw a dyna­mite bomb at police as they dis­persed a pub­lic assem­bly dur­ing a gen­er­al strike for the eight-hour work­day. In response, the Chica­go police fired on the work­ers killing dozens of demon­stra­tors and sev­er­al of their own offi­cers.

For more about Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers’ Day, see this Wikipedia arti­cle.

Zee­ber Gold: Utah Phillips

428px-Utah_Phillips_death_noteThen join us at 11am or 7pm Pacif­ic Time, 19:00 or 03:00 in the UK, for the lat­est in our series of inter­views with the movers and shak­ers of the 1960s and 1970s, record­ed at the time, cour­tesy of our friends at ZBS Foun­da­tion.

Appro­pri­ate­ly enough this week we present an inter­view with Utah Phillips (1935–2008), labour orga­niz­er, folk singer, sto­ry­teller, poet and the “Gold­en Voice of the Great South­west”. He described the strug­gles of labour unions and the pow­er of direct action, and often pro­mot­ed the Indus­tri­al Work­ers of the World in his music, actions, and words. In this inter­view from over 40 years ago, Utah talks about trains, how to hop them, where to go to get on, what to watch out for. He tells of his own expe­ri­ences rid­ing the rails. And he sings some great rail­road songs.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

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