Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day 2012

* International Workers' Day

>>> Celebration of the holiday which started in the land of Norval Morrisseau's ancestors (Chicago, USA - ancestral land of the Chippewa or Ojibwa people) and still celebrated around the world, including France which was also Norval Morrisseau's ancestral land (his father Abel Morriseau was part French; his mother was Grace Theresa Potan Nanakonagos, Ojibwa)


"The Great Flood", 33.5"x128", © 1975 Norval Morrisseau
~ This painting was exhibited at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France in 1989. Norval Morrisseau was the only painter from Canada invited to exhibit as part of the French Revolution Bicentennial celebrations. /Click on image to Enlarge/

History of the International Workers' Day and why movement which started in Chicago is not commemorated on the same day in the USA as in the most countries around the world?

International Workers' Day is the commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886, when Chicago police fired on workers during a general strike for the eight hour day, killing several demonstrators and resulting in the deaths of several police officers, largely from friendly fire. In 1889, the first congress of the Second International, meeting in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution and the Exposition Universelle, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne, called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. These were so successful that May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891. The May Day Riots of 1894 and May Day Riots of 1919 occurred subsequently. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on "all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace." As the most effective way of demonstrating was by striking, the congress made it "mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on May 1, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers."

Through all this turmoil in the northern hemisphere, the Stonemasons Society in the then colony of Victoria, now the State of Victoria in Australia led the battle for the '8 Hour Day', the most dramatic achievement of the early trade Union Movement. By 1856, Australian workers were benefiting from the results of a decision by the Collingwood Branch of the Stonemasons Society of Victoria. The same year it was recognized in New South Wales, followed by Queensland in 1858 and South Australia in 1873. A memorial statue with the numerals 888, representing 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation, and 8 hours of rest, sits on the corner of Lygon Street and Victoria Parade in Melbourne, Australia to this day.

May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist, and anarchist groups. In some circles, bonfires are lit in commemoration of the Haymarket martyrs, usually right as the first day of May begins. It has also seen right-wing massacres of participants as in the Taksim Square massacre of 1977 in Turkey.

Due to its status as a celebration of the efforts of workers and the socialist movement, May Day is an important official holiday in Communist countries such as the People's Republic of China, Cuba, and the former Soviet Union. May Day celebrations typically feature elaborate popular and military parades in these countries.

In countries other than the United States and Canada, resident working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday and their efforts largely succeeded. For this reason, in most of the world today, May Day is marked by massive street rallies led by workers, their trade unions, anarchists and various communist and socialist parties.

In the United States, however, the official Federal holiday for the "working man" is Labor Day in September. This day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor organized the first parade in New York City. The first Labor Day celebration was held on September 5, 1882, and was organized by the Knights of Labor. The Knights began holding it every year and called for it to be a national holiday, but this was opposed by other labor unions who wanted it held on May Day (as it is everywhere else in the world). After the Haymarket Square riot in May, 1886, President Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus he moved in 1887 to support the Labor Day that the Knights supported.

* MAY DAY (International Workers' Day) is a national holiday in the following countries: Albania, Argentina, Aruba, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, China, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Lebanon, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


Information on Norval Morrisseau's Employment (Work) History: Norval Morrisseau, together with his wife Harriet Kakegamic, arrived in Cochenour, Ontario in 1959 to work in the Cochenour-Willans gold mine. He was tall, slim and soft-spoken. His job in the mill was as a “flotation operator,” watching and adjusting a large vat of liquid gold ore and chemicals. This two-year span has been referred to as the longest period of steady employment Morrisseau experienced. Fellow employees recall Morrisseau painting during slack times on the job. The art, sometimes on mill filter paper, was left rolled in a corner of the mill when he had to attend to the flotation mix.


~ The acrylic painting on canvas in this post: "The Great Flood", 33.5"x128", © 1975 orval Morrisseau; Presented on page 120 in the book THE ART OF NORVAL MORRISSEAU /Lister Sinclair, Jack Pollock, and Norval Morrisseau/; ISBN: 0-458-93820-3 /Toronto, Ontario: Methuen, 1979./

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