The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Culture Corner:
Memorial Day Massacre & out of This Furnace

Jun 12, 2023

Film: Memorial Day Massacre

This documentary tells the story of a 1937 Chicago Memorial Day peaceful picnic and march of striking steelworkers and their families, who were shot at and beaten by hundreds of police, resulting in ten dead and more than a hundred injured. The police and the media all claimed the strikers themselves were to blame, that they had rioted. Paramount had a film crew there that had filmed events as they unfolded, but it then decided to bury the footage as it showed the cops clearly and brutally at fault. The film was later subpoenaed, and the truth was revealed.

Book: Out of This Furnace by Thomas Bell, 1947, republished 1976

This novel tells the story of three generations of an immigrant Slovak family who worked in or around the steel mills in Homestead or Braddock, Pennsylvania (just outside of Pittsburg) from the 1880s to the 1940s. Written by a man whose family endured this life, the novel powerfully depicts the cruel hardship they endured, the everyday struggle of the men and women to survive, the 12-hour shifts, and the constant threat of injury and death in the mills. It shows workers at the mercy of the boss, Carnegie and others, and the government that always took the side of the boss. It shares the hopes and dreams of the families in the face of misery. And it tells of the efforts to organize and fight against the greed of the companies.