Transcript of a speech delivered to workers at the University of Chicago on May 1st, 2019.
Today we at the Industrial Workers of the World are here as workers. Workers aware of what strength our labor can wield. Each of us individually hold that power. Yet informed by the circumstances of a culture which perceives our productivity to be the basis of our worth, we are conditioned to shun such notions. We are taught that through our labor, our purpose is contribution—not to the betterment of our communities, both immediate and at large, but that we are destined to contribute to capital. And in the midst of each day spent fueling this enforced deception a belief is bestowed upon us that if we extend our reach towards power, that if we distance ourselves and step further from solidarity, that then and only then can we obtain prosperity.
Today we are here among those who understand otherwise. That through that form of mutual recognition, our camaraderie, and our history we recognize that prosperity can only be obtained through the means of solidarity.
Today we are here because we seek to honor the memory of those who bore witness to this reality before our time. And today we reflect. We reflect upon those who offered their lives in pursuit of a future that would provide that very prosperity to all. It is in all likelihood that they knew well their sacrifice for the cause of labor would be largely scrubbed from the texts of history. Their words, their thoughts, and their values, eradicated for the purpose of preservation. The preservation of a narrative that upheld the will of those who oppress us as moral and just. Just as in centuries before, and in those since, this aim was largely achieved.
However, this May 1st , as each of those before, we seek to embody the spirit of those principles echoing back from the past. Today we remind ourselves and the world that our shared ambition —their vision— is not forgotten. And in the near forty-nine thousand days that have passed we recognize that the working class still seeks to rise: to emancipate itself from the subjugation of the wage system.
Today, May Day, we commemorate these sentiments with speeches, with marches, and with roses strewn upon graves. Today, our actions will strive to make May 1st a day of remembrance in a better world. And today we further work toward such a seemingly insurmountable legacy by making it known that UChicago does not work without us.
Check out this video from the University of Chicago May Day rally
Paul Scanty is the Education and Outreach Director of the Greater Chicago IWW, a writer, speaker, and vocalist of Chicago hardcore outfit The Ableist. connect with Paul via Twitter at @PaulScanty