United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts will speak at Mother Jones event

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By CARL GREEN

Illinois Correspondent

Mt. Olive, IL – United Mine Workers International President Cecil Roberts will speak and lay wreaths at the graves of Mary Harris “Mother Jones” and two other labor figures during the annual Mother Jones birthday celebration at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 28.

Mother Jones selected May 1 – May Day – to be her adopted birthday. She is buried at Union Miners’ Cemetery here, the only union-owned cemetery in the U.S.

The cemetery was founded after the nearby Battle of Virden in 1898, in which miners were in a gun battle with soldiers guarding scab workers being brought in on a train during a strike. It is believed that seven miners and four guards were killed. The cemetery was established to provide a place to bury four of the miners, and the great Labor organizer Mary Harris “Mother Jones” later asked that she be buried there with “her boys.”

Robets also will honor John Banovic, a former secretary-treasurer of the Mine Workers, and Sam Yurkovitch, an immigrant coal miner who died at the second battle of the Argonne in 1918.

After the graveside ceremony, the event will shift to the Mother Jones Museum in Mt. Olive City Hall. The folk music duo Wildflower Conspiracy will perform. 

Funds are being raised to help pay for the celebration. Send checks, made out to the city with a tagline saying they are for the 2018 May Day event, to Mother Jones Museum, Mt. Olive City Hall, 215 E. Main St., Mt. Olive IL 62069. Donations are tax-deductible.

Nearby lodging may be found in Litchfield and Staunton. Mt. Olive is on Illinois 138, 28 miles north of St. Louis just off Interstate 55.

For further information, contact Joann Condellone at (618) 659-8759 or by email at jcondellone@gmail.com.

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