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“Dazzling” night at LHF’s MLK Ball

“You've had a really dazzling, influential, significant career in the labor movement,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin. “And that's just a small part of it because you're an author, you're a writer, you're a playwright, you're a screenwriter, you're a documentarian, you are a creative force to be reckoned with in the United States of America.” Congressman Raskin, who represents Maryland’s 8th District, was talking to and about Elise Bryant, the retiring Executive Director of the Labor Heritage Foundation, who, along with Raskin, was honored at last Sunday’s MLK “Gonna Take Us All” Ball.

The annual gathering, hosted by the Labor Heritage Foundation, drew a packed crowd of more than 150 activists to McGinty’s Public House in Silver Spring. Raskin noted that one of the good things about being a member of the current “’Do Nothing’ Congress is that they all leave and I'm still around, so I can sneak stuff through when they go back home. And so I got a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition” for Bryant recognizing her “quarter century of devotion to the American labor movement, your creation of exquisite music and plays and the nourishment of young minds and hearts.”

Gary Huck, half of the Huck-Konopacki labor cartoonist team, presented Bryant with a special plaque with the words from “Bread and Roses”: Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes/Hearts starve as well as bodies/Bread and roses/Bread and roses,” adding, “Elise, you have given us a parade of roses.” Speaking of which, fellow Newspaper Guild member Rick Ehrmann presented Bryant – resplendent in a bright red ball gown -- with a large bouquet of red roses.

After the presentations, songs by the DC Labor Chorus and stirring remarks by Rep. Raskin – who, quoting Tom Paine, concluded by saying “Tyranny like hell is not easily conquered. But we have this saving consolation: the more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory. Let's make that victory ours in 2024” – the crowd ate, drank and danced the night away with DJ Wah-Heed at the turntables.

CLICK HERE to see more photos, and mark your calendars now for MLK 2025: Sunday, January 19!

photos: (top right) Jamie Raskin, Gary Huck Elise Bryant, Saul Schniderman; photo by Chris Garlock; (bottom) dance floor; photo by Bruce Guthrie

PMN hosts Hybrid Winter Convergence

The People's Music Network is hosting a Hybrid Winter Convergence from January 26-28, taking place both on Zoom and in person at two separate nearby locations in Manhattan: Friday and Sunday at Henry Winston Unity Hall and Saturday at The People’s Forum. The event begins Friday night on Zoom with a Hybrid Virtual Round Robin, open to PMN members anywhere in the world or in person in NYC. People participating remotely via Zoom may join select workshops taking place in NYC on Saturday as well as participate in Zoom-only workshops throughout the weekend.”We have workshops being led by Jane Sapp, members of the NYC Labor Chorus, DC Labor Chorus, NYC Poor People's Campaign, Jendog Lonewolf, Colleen Kattau, and many others,” says PMN’s Ben Grosscup. 

Click here to check out the program and how you can register to be a part of this event, either in person in NYC or on Zoom.


Hilary Peach’s Thick Skin: Writer and recording artist Hilary Peach worked for twenty years as a transient welder, travelling across Canada and the United States, working in pulp mills, chemical plants, refineries, and generating stations. In 2022 she released a memoir about this time, Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood; our interviewer is Susan Eisenberg, a poet, visual artist, oral historian and former electrician.

On this week’s installment of our “Story Behind the Song” series, Joe Jencks tells us how he came to write his labor classic “Rise As One”. Joe is a 25-year veteran of the international folk circuit, an award-winning songwriter and celebrated vocalist, and a member of A.F.M. Local 1000, the North American Traveling Musicians Union.

The Labor Heritage Power Hour radio show airs at 1p ET Thursdays on WPFW 89.3FM or listen to the podcast anytime.

PICKET SIGN of the Week

Academic Student Employees at Washington State University won a tentative agreement on Wednesday, hours after hitting the picket line; read more in The Stand

Got a great picket sign? Email us at [email protected]

Labor VIDEOS of the Week

TOP: Patti Smith’s version of her song People Got The Power, which was performed by the DC Labor Chorus at the MLK Ball at the request of Jamie Raskin.

BOTTOM: Bruce Springsteen's My Hometown, a eulogy for dying industrial cities, was the country’s most listened-to song on January 20, 1986. 

Got labor video? Email us at [email protected]

Labor SONG of the Week

The iconic labor song "Solidarity Forever" – sung here by UAW members at Ford -- turned 109 years old on Monday. Written in defiance of early 20th-century oppression, it railed against the forces that “would lash us into serfdom” with the abiding counsel that the “union makes us strong.” Read more in Jacobin

Labor ART of the Week

Got labor art? Email us at [email protected]

Labor POEM of the Week

I Would Be a Nurse Again

I would be a nurse again

in the starry hours of intensive care

or the deep tunnel of hospice halls

except for patients

who died as quickly as day drops speechless

behind the screen of evening. 

I would become a nurse again, except for the boy

fused by fire, t-shirt torn off

so he might be washed that last time,

skin blazed hot, then chilled,

but no goosebumps, no signs of life.

Black pupils refusing to spiral shut

in the flashlight’s stare,

eyes as cloudy blue as Earth seen from the moon.

I’d return to the bedside

except for the woman who wouldn't stop bleeding,

her blood red peonies blooming,

or the prisoner who swallowed razor blades

just to get out of solitary.

I would tend my patients again, bring

my soft touch and seeing eyes,

except I’ve left them, I’ve left them,

small fires of the heart aching.

Cortney Davis

First published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal (July 2023)

Got a labor poem? Email us at [email protected]

Labor QUOTE of the Week

“If you’ve got a boss, JOIN A UNION!”

Tom Morello used his platform during Rage Against The Machine’s induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to speak truth to power. Check out the video clip here.

Got a labor quote? Email us at [email protected]

LHF's comprehensive listing of labor's cultural events: music, films, theater, books, history and more...

Click here to add your labor arts event!

MUSIC: Break 'em on Down, These Walls: Charlie King & Elise Bryant

Fri, January 19, 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Online concert, $10; BUY TICKETS HERE

A night of songs and poetry hammering at the walls that divide us. Charlie King and Elise Bryant bring their artistry and commitment to social justice to this vibrant performance of poetry, song and conversation. With decades of public singing and organizing on behalf of working people, and for racial justice and peace, they bring a wealth of experience and heart to this stirring performance. Not to be missed! Ticket buyers will be emailed the Zoom link before the show. This show will also be recorded for later viewing by ticket buyers. Questions, email [email protected]

HISTORY: Art Shields: The People’s Scribe

Thu, January 25, 4pm – 5pm


Presented by Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, moderated by Richard Bermack. Tickets are limited. Register now to ensure your participation. Attendance is free but registration is required

MUSIC: PMN’s Hybrid Winter Convergence

Thu-Sun, January 26-28

New York City and online; info/registration info here

Hybrid Virtual Round Robin, and workshops led by Jane Sapp, members of the NYC Labor Chorus, DC Labor Chorus, NYC Poor People's Campaign, Jendog Lonewolf, Colleen Kattau, and many others.


January 19, 1921: The national board of entertainment union SAG-AFTRA votes overwhelmingly to have its Disciplinary Committee look into whether member Donald J. Trump— in the union because of his show “The Apprentice” — violated the union’s constitution when his incitement of insurrection at the nation’s capitol Jan. 6, 2021 led to the threatening and endangerment of journalists, many of whom are the union’s members.

Listen to the Labor History Today podcast here. This week: Woody’s resolutions; labor historian Julie Greene on why Woody Guthrie’s 1943 New Year’s resolutions still resonate today.

How much did the New York Yankees pay Mickey Mantle in 1961?

LAST WEEK'S QUIZ: FDR’s National War Labor Board, created on January 12, 1942 to mediate labor disputes during World War II, consisted entirely of men, despite the fact that 12 million of the nation’s workers were women, which rose to 18 million by war’s end.

"The worker must have bread,

but she must have roses, too."

Please CLICK HERE NOW to pledge your financial support to our 2023 program, which this year includes our annual Solidarity Forever Award, the Great Labor Arts Exchange, the DC Labor FilmFest and much more (check out our website for details!).

Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. 


North Pole Elves Win Big with Escalating Strike (12/22)

Rudolph the Union Reindeer (12/15)

Washington Post members strike (12/8)

Wins for NYC Ballet Orchestra and Opera Colorado workers (12/1)

Socially responsible shopping on Black Friday (11/24)

Museum workers win in LA (11/17)

New monument honors union victims of Centralia tragedy (11/10)

Exit singing: Elise Bryant retires from LHF (11/3)

Elise Bryant shows why she’s “Queen of the Night” 10/27)

“TRIANGLE: Scenes from a Prosecution” (10/20)

Triangle Fire Dedication Ceremony streams live today (10/11)

Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial to be unveiled Saturday (9/13)

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