A physically-distanced demo for May Day.
"Which Side Are You On?" was written by Florence Reece in 1931. She scribbled the lyrics on a calendar after anti-union thugs terrorized her family during the Harlan County War (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlan_County_War
). She set the lyrics to the tune of “Jackie Munro,” which told the tale of a woman who went to war “dressed like a man” to save her lover. The song ends with the two getting married, over the objections of a general and priest who think two male-presenting people shouldn't be permitted to marry.
We're working on an arrangement of this song that will incorporate "Jackie Monroe" and more modern versions of "Which Side Are You On?" We'll play that version for our upcoming Roots of Resistance livestream (Part 2, appearing here once details are determined: www.youtube.com/channel/UCLKlJd5R6Ffdea1nODZf2Ng)
In the meantime, we thought a simpler recording of some of Florence Reece's original verses would be perfect for May Day.
Other May Day (or any day) funtime activities:
- Check out the great documentary "Harlan County, USA" (up on youtube for free and probably many other platforms) to see Florence Reece sing her song – and for an incredibly powerful story of another union struggle a generation after she wrote her song.
- Learn about the origins of May Day and the Haymarket Massacre (there's always wikipedia and Thoughtslime made a typically funny and informative youtube video about it)
– Join organizing for a general strike (www.genstrike.org
– Learn and get inspired by the Winnipeg General Strike (1919) or the Saint John General Strike (1976)
– Support essential workers fighting for a living wage and basic safety, and ordinary people who can't pay rent
- Here in Ottawa/Kitchissippi, connect with orgs like 15 & Fairness, the Workers Rights Action Project, the Herongate Tenant Coalition, and the COVID-19 Rent Strike.
– This also being an ancient spring festival, enjoy the beauty of the earth coming alive and having some space to breathe.