Still Fighting for Bread and Roses

It’s been two weeks since our New York Educator’s Workshop, and I am still amazed at the places we visited and all that was taught by Etta, Ellen, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, and all the participants and presenters in attendance. It occurred to me recently how connected I feel to the labor rights movement, which we discussed as we stood in the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. Of course there’s the Jewish connection: Jews made up a large percentage of the population of advocates and protesters in the fight for labor rights in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America. Jewish teachings and Yiddish phrases were often incorporated into the battle cries of the rioters. For me personally, there is much more to it than that.

Over a year ago, I graduated from Mount Holyoke College, the oldest and one of the few remaining all-women’s colleges in America. Arguably the most meaningful event of the graduation weekend is the Laurel Parade. The Laurel Chain Ceremony at Mount Holyoke began in 1902, and turned into a Laurel Parade in 1932 when it was integrated into the Alumnae Parade. It could be argued that the concept of the parade was inspired by the marches of the suffragists and labor organizers. It is certain that graduates and alumnae who return for their reunions wear white in solidarity with these same activists, and carry signs and banners telling the history of their classes and time spent at the college.


You might also like:

Related Posts