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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Celebrate Dr. King and His Contributions to the Labor Movement at the Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival

by Nina Fendel, Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival

The 26th annual Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival will take place on the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, January 13-15, 2012 in Burlingame at the Machinists’ Hall, 1511 Rollins Road. The festival has been inspiring union and community activists to use the creative arts to strengthen working class movements for 25 years. Participants learn how to use music, drama, visual arts, spoken word and writing to support and enhance their efforts, as they honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King and his links to the labor movement. The highlight of the festival will be the benefit concert, Sunday, January 15, 7 pm. Scroll down to see a video about the festival.

The festivities begin on Friday night with an Arts Exchange highlighted by a song and poetry swap. Saturday and Sunday feature workshops linking the arts to workers’ struggles. Two workshops will focus on the solidarity between the Labor Movement and the Occupy Wall Street Movement: “Displaying Union Power” and “Occupy Everything! Songs from the New Deal to the No Deal.”

The festival will also feature a presentation by labor historian Lincoln Cushing on using posters to build movements and a workshop led by labor cartoonist Mike Konopaki on morphing corporate logos into a progressive message. Participants will also pay tribute to Woody Guthrie on the centennial of his birth with a song swap of Guthrie’s songs. “Wisconsin, a Year Later: Report Back” will be presented by Kathy Wilkes and Mike Konopaki. A “Choral Conversation” will be held on Saturday, with the Vukani Mawethu Choir, La Pena Community Chorus, Bay Area Rockin’ Solidarity Labor Heritage Chorus, and Solidarity Notes from Vancouver, B.C. The festival will also feature films, including Soldiers of the Fields: The Men and Women of the Bracero Program and two from the Ancestors in the Americas series about Chinese laborers in the frontier west. A complete schedule of events can be found on our website.

This year’s festival is dedicated to folksinger and activist Jon Fromer, a long time organizer and supporter of the festival and the recipient of the 2012 Labor Arts award. Fromer has spent the last three decades singing on picket lines, as well as anti-war rallies and protests at the infamous School of the Americas—raising his voice to sing out for peace and justice. Fromer has performed at many benefit concerts to raise funds for progressive, human rights, and labor causes. A Benefit Concert Sunday night will raise funds for Jon’s medical expenses. Click here to hear Jon Fromer perform.

To learn more about the festival, view the complete events schedule and register, visit our website.

Posted on 01/09/2012Permalink

More posts by Nina Fendel

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