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Category Archives: Labor History

Precious Memories (2015)

Precious Memories has one act, 84 minutes long.  I wrote the script but not the songs, which are by Sarah Ogan Gunning (“I Hate the Capitalist System”); her brother Jim Garland (“I Don’t Want Your Millions Mister,” the real point of which is that we do); and her half-sister Aunt Molly Jackson (“I Am A Union Woman”), plus two traditional ballads and excerpts from three gospel songs.
THE PLAY: Part memory play, part eulogy, part concert, this one-woman show written by legendary folk singer and community organizer Si Kahn traces the life of Sarah Ogan Gunning, an unsung hero of American folk/labor music history.  The play finds Sarah alone in her Detroit basement apartment on the evening after her sister Aunt Molly Jackson’s funeral, as she attempts to set the record straight and say goodbye.  Although Sarah Ogan Gunning is a name almost unknown to us today, her powerful songs about the coal mining region of Eastern Kentucky in the 1930’s were an influence on Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and other famous folk singers of her day.

Si Kahn <sikahn36@gmail.com

 

Boom and Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal

Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Wagner and co-produced by Steve Zeitlin of CityLore and Erie Canal Museum Curator Daniel Ward, the film tells the story of industrial expansion and decline along the Erie Canal and examines its impact on the lives of workers in steel, grain, textiles and shipping. Wagner’s credits include The Stone Carvers and Windhorse. A meditation on economic cycles and the American Dream. The film surveys the macro-economics of industrial expansion and decline along the Erie Canal, and examines its impact on the lives of workers in steel, grain, textiles and shipping. In the wake of economic collapse, can the people of America’s cities find meaning and worth?

Paul Wagner, Charlottesville, VA:  pw@paulwagnerfilms.com

 

Mother Jones in Heaven (2015)

Musical
United States
Writer and Composer: Si Kahn
Musical Direction: Jim Peterson

45 Minutes

In this innovative one-woman musical by the legendary singer, songwriter, and activist Si Kahn, Mother Jones awakens in Heaven which, to her surprise and delight, turns out to be an Irish pub. There, she meets a trio of musicians who recount the events of her life through music and stories.

Si Kahn contact: sikahn36@gmail.com

 

NIGHTLINE Reports Decline of Unions – Patco Strike, Phelps Dodge, Hormel Strike

ABC Nightline on 1980s union-busting, 8 minutes

 

Nixon Intervenes in 1970 Postal Strike

 

Deadline for Action (A 1946 Call To Action Pt 1)

21 minutes
This film produced by The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) gives a taste of the post WWII politics that led to the Taft-Hartley Act that restricts the ability of workers to join unions.

 

Strikes Threaten Industry (1946 strike wave)

Newsreel, 6 minutes
A wave of strikes occurred in 1946 after World War II ended and wartime wage-price controls began to erode. Here we see clips on labor disputes at Western Electric, Western Union, the auto industry, railroads, coal, ships, and trucking. The strike wave set the stage for passage of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which included injunctions for national emergency disputes.