Third annual Mother Jones celebration set for May 5

MOTHER JONES – National Park Service photo

Mt. Olive, IL – A festival celebrating famed Labor leader Mother Jones will take place on May 5 in Mt. Olive, Ill.

The third annual Mother Jones Festival will begin in downtown Mt. Olive with live music, a “magic and medicine” show, sidewalk art competition for children, cemetery tours and busing to Mother Jones’ grave, Mother Jones Museum tours and more.

The Mt. Olive Public Library will host “Mother Jones” reading the children’s book, “The March of the Mill Children.”

The event runs from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, May 5 in and around the Mother Jones Museum, which honors the contributions of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones and the development of the Union Miners Cemetery, United Mine Workers of America, Progressive Miners and the Women’s Auxiliary, as well as the impact of coal mining, Organized Labor and conflict.

Mary Harris (Mother) Jones was an Irish-born immigrant who became one of the biggest Labor organizers and activists of her era. Her husband and four children died of yellow fever in Memphis. A few years later, her dress shop and all of her belonging were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. She went on to find a new family and a new purpose as a union organizer for United Mine Workers of America, among others.

By the turn of the 20th century, she was feared for her ability to mobilize workers and advocate for Labor reforms.

She led the “March of the Mill Children” in 1903, leading children under age 16 who were working in silk mills to march to the summer home of President Theodore Roosevelt, who declined to see them. She continued to organize and advocate into the 1920s. She died in 1930 and was buried in Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, as per her wishes to be buried with “my boys.”

Mother Jones is often quoted from her firey speeches, perhaps best known is her call to “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

The museum is located at 215 E. Main Street, Mt. Olive, Ill. For more information, contact the museum at 618-659-8759.

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