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Joe Hill Lives! 100 Years since his execution

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the execution of Joe Hill, a US labour organiser and songwriter whose legacy lives on, and stands as an inspiration to all who struggle for workers’ rights.

Joe Hill’s legacy extends to Australia, where some of his ashes were scattered. The song “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night” has been sung at many events in Australia, by Paul Robeson singing to workers constructing the Sydney Opera House and more recently by Joan Baez in her concert tour of Australia.

According to the US unions (AFL-CIO) website ‘Joe Hill was a songwriter, itinerant laborer, and union organizer. Joe Hill became famous around the world after a Utah court convicted him of murder. Even before the international campaign to have his conviction reversed, however, Joe Hill was well known in hobo jungles, on picket lines and at workers’ rallies as the author of popular labor songs and as an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) agitator.

Thanks in large part to his songs and to his stirring, well-publicized call to his fellow workers on the eve of his execution—”Don’t waste time mourning, organize!”— Hill became, and he has remained, the best-known IWW martyr and labor folk hero.’
(http://www.aflcio.org/About/Our-History/Key-People-in-Labor-History/Joe-Hill-1879-1915)

There are many memorable quotes. Just prior to his execution, Hill had written to Bill Haywood, an IWW leader, saying, “Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize… Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.”

And for those of you who might care to sing the song:
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, But Joe, you’re ten years dead
I never died, says he
I never died, says he

In Salt Lake, Joe, says I to him
Him standing by my bed
They framed you on a murder charge
Says Joe, But I ain’t dead
Says Joe, But I ain’t dead

The copper bosses killed you, Joe
They shot you, Joe, says I
Takes more than guns to kill a man
Says Joe, I didn’t die
Says Joe, I didn’t die

And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says, What they forgot to kill
Went on to organize
Went on to organize

Joe Hill ain’t dead, he says to me
Joe Hill ain’t never died
Where working men are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side
Joe Hill is at their side

From San Diego up to Maine
In every mine and mill
Where workers strike and organize
Says he, You’ll find Joe Hill
Says he, You’ll find Joe Hill

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, But Joe, you’re ten years dead
I never died, says he
I never died, says he

It’s worth a moment or two to reflect on his life and contribution to workers’ struggle. Here are a couple of articles:
https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/why-i-dreamed-i-would-see-joe-hill-one-night,8391
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-b-gutman/what-labor-icon-joe-hill-_b_8570056.html?ir=Australia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Hill

In solidarity

Lachlan

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