Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bread and Roses

This was the song that came out of the Textile Workers Strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. This was one of the first major strikes by a workforce composed of women. The song is traditionally associated with International Women's Day (March 8) when a gift of Bread and Roses is offered to socially active women whom we respect and admire.
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for -- but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler -- ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!

For those of you interested in this historic strike, check here.

1 comment:

  1. I worked in a steel mill for over 30 years, I hired in with six women the first day. They became my friends. The mill management had to buy power lifts because of women, before the women, steel was pushed around by back power. The biggest retirement party we ever had in the mill was the day Peggy retired, she hired in as an older women, having started out her work life in the war industry during WWII. The fact that management had to hire females by law saved my body a good deal of wear and tear because the jobs had to be structured so that a women could do them.