Don't Mourn, Organize! Performances in Celebration of Labor Troubadour Joe Hill (1879-1915)

Category: Education
Duration: 01:23:35
Presented by Haymarket Books and The New School (, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! leads a group of musicians and actors in a rousing evening of performance at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium at the University Center, to honor the great labor troubadour Joe Hill.

Participants include musicians Allison Moorer, Deva Mahal, Stephan Said, Eli Smith, Son of Nun, and Jamie Kilstein; actors Susan Pourfar and Brian Jones; comedian Hari Kondabolu; writer Walter Mosley and Letters of Joe Hill editor Alexis Buss.

Hill was assassinated by a firing squad in the State of Utah a century ago, November 19, 1915.


As musician Tom Morello notes, "Joe Hill’s influence is everywhere. Without Joe Hill, there’s no Woody Guthrie, no Dylan, no Springsteen, no Clash, no Public Enemy, no Minor Threat, no System of a Down, no Rage Against the Machine.”

No history about culture lifting up the plight of working families or how music can impact politics is complete without Joe Hill. Even before the international campaign to have his conviction reversed, however, Joe Hill was well known in hobo jungles, on picket lines and at workers' rallies as the author of popular labor songs and as an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) agitator.



Musicians will perform songs from Hill’s brilliant songbook — which features picket line and protest classics "There is Power in a Union," "The Rebel Girl," "The Preacher and the Slave, and "Casey Jones,” among many others — as well as music inspired by Hill and the many protest movements he joined.


Actors will read from Hill’s moving letters and poetry. From his jail cell in Utah, he wrote to “Big Bill” Haywood in a telegram, “Don’t waste time mourning. Organize!” — a line that became a slogan of the U.S. labor movement. On the eve of his execution, Hill penned "My Last Will.”:

My Will is easy To decide, / For there is nothing To divide / My kin don’t need To fuss and moan — /“Moss does not cling to rolling stone" My body? — Oh! — If I could choose / I would want To ashes it reduce, / And let The merry breezes blow / My dust To where some flowers grow Perhaps some fading flower Then / Would come to life and bloom again / This is my Last and Final Will. — / Good Luck to All of you / Joe Hill


Whether you are part of the labor movement or simply concerned about struggles of everyday hardworking people getting a fair shot and finding some balance of power, this is an important event to attend.

Progressive movements – in order to be movements – have almost always had a soundtrack. From Tropicalia in Brazil to Fel Kuti’s Afrobeat sounds to the soul and folk music of the 1960s to politically charged punk rock and hip hop. Music gets us to step, to march forward, together. And at no time in our history does that spirit more need to flourish than now.

The event will also serve as the launch of a new edition from Independent publisher Haymarket Books ofThe Letters of Joe Hill: 100th Anniversary Edition, edited by Philip S. Foner, with a foreword by Tom Morello.

Location: John L. Tishman Auditorium, University Center
Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm


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