Mother Jones dinner, Oct. 9, to feature Teachers union leader

Illinois actors will appear in Blair Mountain events

Springfield, IL – It’s fall, so it’s time again to remember one of the greatest of Labor leaders, Mother Jones, at the Mother Jones Foundation’s annual fund-raising dinner.

Meanwhile, two of southern Illinois’ Mother Jones era re-creators are among those featured this Labor Day weekend in West Virginia at events commemorating the miners’ and Mother Jones’ historic Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921.

STACY DAVIS GATES, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union and executive vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, will be the guest speaker at the Mother Jones Foundation fund-raising dinner Oct. 9 in Springfield, Ill.

The 35th annual dinner is planned for Saturday, Oct. 9, to feature Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union and executive vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. At press time, however, the group was considering cancelling the event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plans are for the dinner to be held as in past years at Erin’s Pavilion in Southwind Park in Springfield, Ill. from 5 to 9:30 p.m. at 4965 S. 2nd St. Tickets are $40, and tables of 10 are available. The social hour begins at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and the program at 7. Send checks to the Mother Jones Foundation at P.O. Box 20412, Springfield, IL 62708-0412 or for questions, call 217-210-2031.

Each year, a Labor-oriented musician is featured. This year the performer will be organizer and singer Evan Greer. Also, as in most years, a special guest from the Irish community will be on hand, this time Sarah Keating, vice consul at the Consulate General of Ireland in Chicago.

In its announcement of the event on Facebook, the Foundation describes its speaker in terms that could apply as well to Mother Jones herself.

“Stacy Davis Gates has been the architect of bold political and legislative campaigns for the schools and city that all Chicagoans deserve,” the announcement states. “She has raised millions of dollars to elect classroom teachers to all levels of local government and to challenge school privatizers and union-busters.

“Davis Gates has also spearheaded statewide legislative campaigns to pass the strongest charter school accountability measures in the country, push for restoration of the bargaining rights of Chicago Public Schools employees and fully fund public education by ending tax loopholes for the 1 percent,” the announcement said.

EVAN GREER is an activist singer/songwriter, parent, and organizer based in Boston will perform Labor-oriented songs at the Mother Jones Foundation’s annual fund-raising dinner Oct. 9 in Springfield, Ill.

Evan Greer is an activist singer/songwriter, parent, and organizer based in Boston. Greer is deputy director of Fight for the Future and a charismatic touring speaker, educator, organizer, mentor and freelance writer for social and economic causes, according to the Foundation, and “has traveled internationally as a facilitator, trainer, movement musician and mentor, providing inspiration, leadership development and strategic support to hundreds of community groups.”

Members of the Mt. Olive-based Friends of Mothers Jones Museum and the Union Miners‘ Cemetery will be in West Virginia Sept. 3-5 to participate in the Blair 100 events commemorating the miners‘’ and Mother Jones’ battle to protect their jobs and their lives in August and September of 1921, culminating in the historic Battle of Blair Mountain.

Loretta Williams, who has often portrayed the great union leader in this area, is donning the black dress again, and another Friends member, Dale Hawkins, will portray the famed union organizer General Alexander Bradley at the event. He replaces Jim Alderson, the longtime Bradley portrayer who decided to step back this year.

LORETTA WILLIAMS, seen here portraying Mother Jones at the Miners Day event at Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Ill., in November 2020, will be in West Virginia Sept. 3-5 to participate in the Blair 100 events commemorating the Battle of Blair Mountain. – James Goltz photo

They’ll be greeting visitors to the Charleston Coliseum Convention Center and appearing at an information table there on Friday, Sept. 3. On Sunday, Sept. 4, Williams will give a Mother Jones speech at a walking tour at the nearby Matewan mine site, accompanied by Hawkins as General Bradley.

Jim Goltz, a longtime Mother Jones activist from Bunker Hill, will also be on hand making videos of some of the events. For those interested in his videos, he can be reached at

The appearances are part of a series of interactive and interpretive events being held this year leading up to and beyond Labor Day weekend. A schedule of all events and more information can be seen at The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum is supporting and participating in many of the events.

The United Mine Workers are retracing the miners’ 50-mile march over the weekend, going 15 miles a day from Marmet to Sharples, culminating in a Labor Day rally in nearby Racine in Boone County.

The weekend also includes a concert at the convention center at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, following pre-show activities starting at 4 p.m. including string bands, Mine Wars re-enactors, dance workshops, plus storytelling and interpreters including Williams and Hawkins.

Tickets to the concert were $15. Planners were asking attendees to wear their masks and observe distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  

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