Workers’ music for November 2011

For November’s labour song we have “Joe Hill.” Joe Hill was an IWW organizer in the US and Canada who wrote many of the labour songs that came to be popular. In 1915 he was executed by the state of Utah on murder charges which at the time were widely believed to be trumped up, an opinion still strongly held. This song commemorates the life and murder of Joe Hill, and urges us to keep fighting. It was written by Ralph Chaplin, also a wobbly and a prolific songwriter himself.

November is a time when workers’ movements remember our heroes from the past. Joe Hill is just one of thousands of women and men who died for the workers’ cause. Chaplin also wrote this poem about November.

Red November, Black November
By Ralph Chaplin

Red November, black November,
Bleak November, black and red.
Hallowed month of labor’s martyrs,
Labor’s heroes, labor’s dead.

Labor’s wrath and hope and sorrow,
Red the promise, black the threat,
Who are we not to remember?
Who are we to dare forget?

Black and red the colors blended,
Black and red the pledge we made,
Red until the fight is ended,
Black until the debt is paid.

Read more about Joe Hill on wikipedia.

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