Social Movements: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Retired professor of political economy and social movements from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., Dan Leahy, examines the structure of social movements, highlighting historic movements with rural roots.  Check out the written version of his talk here.

The 99% of the 1890s?

The 99% of the 1890s?

There are ninety and nine that live and die,
In want and hunger and cold,
That one may revel in luxury,
And be wrapped in its silken fold…

They toil in our fields, the ninety and nine,
For the fruits of our mother earth;
They dig and delve in the dusky mine,
And bring its rich treasures forth;
But the wealth released by their sturdy blows,
To the hands of the one forever flows,
To the hands of the one forever flows.

– excerpt from “Labor’s Ninety and Nine” by Elizabeth Rose Smith

Might this song strike a chord with the 99% of today? It’s one of dozens published in “The Alliance and Labor Songster: A Collection of Labor and Comic Songs, for the use of Alliances, Grange Debating Clubs and Political Gatherings” compiled in 1891 by Leopold Vincent and published by the Vincent Bros. Publishing Company.

Times were tough in the 1890s. Facing farm foreclosures, high interest rates by banks and railroad monopolies, political corruption and increasing corporate power, Southern Oregon’s rural farmers formed part of the mass movement of American Populism. Through the Farmers’ Alliance and the People’s Party, rural Oregonians organized to challenge corporate control and reclaim the promise of American democracy.

At the History from Below workshop in Grants Pass on Monday, Sept. 17th, 6:00 – 8:30 pm we’ll explore this and other histories of social movements in rural Oregon and their relevance and resonance for our communities today.

This interactive workshop invites participants to explore those moments and movements when passionate, principled or simply fed-up people from rural Oregon (and Southern Oregon, in particular) have banded together in hopes of changing the course of history at the local, state, or national level.

Flyer for Southern Oregon Workshop

Flyer for Southern Oregon Workshop

Our friends and supporters at the Illinois River Valley Arts Council have prepared this flyer for the September 17th, Grants Pass History From Below workshop.  Attend the workshop to learn more about the history of Southern Oregon women fighting for the right to vote, grangers organizing against railroad monopolies and Wall Street, and rural farmers with the Populist movement shaking up local politics in Josephine and Jackson counties in the 1890s!

Visit to Grants Pass

History From Below just got back from a visit to Southern Oregon in preparation for our first tour stop, coming up on September 17th in Grants Pass.  We met with local historian Jeff LaLande, visited the Josephine County Historical Society, scrolled through old microfilm reels at the Grants Pass Courier, and found some real archival gems at the Southern Oregon Historical Society in Medford!

Learn more about our upcoming Southern Oregon tour stop in Grants Pass here.