Labor Organizer Joe Hill: Executed This Day in 1915

On this date in 1915, songwriter, poet and labor activist Joe Hill was shot in Utah for the murder of a local butcher.

Even before his execution, the Swedish immigrant was widely thought to have been railroaded for his IWW affiliation.

Though state authorities had little use for the worldwide clemency bid whose backers included U.S. President Woodrow Wilson -- powerless to intervene officially, since the execution was a state matter -- Hill walked spryly into his martyrdom.

The strange post-mortem career of his totemic ashes is the least of the ways Hill lives on.

His dauntless last message to fellow Wobbly Bill Haywood -- "Don't waste any time mourning. Organize." -- is a permanent fixture on pins and placards among every stripe of left activist. The songs he wrote remain in print -- and in performance.

And the Depression-era tribute ballad "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night" can seamlessly serenade ripped-from-the-headlines footage, as a Paul Robeson rendition does in these clips of 1998 protests against then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

(Cross-posted from ExecutedToday.com)

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    d'oh (none / 0) (#1)
    by executedtoday on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 01:14:12 PM EST
    With apologies for the YouTube code.  I'm getting my butt kicked by the diary, but am trying to clean that up; the viddies are also on my site.

    I fixed it for you (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 02:03:27 PM EST
    The embed codes were off, but I found them and fixed them for you.

    I believe Joan Boaz also (none / 0) (#3)
    by avahome on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 02:09:18 PM EST
    sang this song at Woodstock?  More bang for the buck.. Kids today have no idea... We can do better.