On May 1, Southern California will commemorate International Workers Day with a series of rallies and marches. The tradition, which dates back to the 19th century, will see workers unite to promote labor rights and celebrate the contributions of working people across the world.
The Los Angeles May Day Coalition is organizing a 5 a.m. rally and 5 p.m. march in downtown LA, with both events starting at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway. The march will then proceed to Pershing Square and continue to Grand Park, where another program is planned at 6 p.m.
The theme for this year’s march is “Solidarity is Power: Right to Citizenship, Right to Unionize, Right to Strike, & Right to Housing.” A variety of organizations, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the Democratic Socialists of America – Los Angeles, will join the coalition in support of workers’ rights.
In Little Tokyo, Revolution Club LA will stage a demonstration at First Street and Central Avenue at 3 p.m. Their goal is to raise awareness of the dangers of potential conflicts between the US, NATO, China, and Russia.
Meanwhile, May Day Boyle Heights will kick off at 4:30 p.m. with a rally at Mathews Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, followed by a march to the Hollenbeck Community Police Station, where a protest is planned. The event will conclude with a program at Mariachi Plaza.
May Day has a long and rich history in the United States. Labor groups have been staging rallies and protests on May 1 since 1890, originally to commemorate the Haymarket affair of 1886. The Haymarket rally, which called for an eight-hour workday, was peaceful until an unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police officers, killing seven and wounding many others. Eight anarchists were subsequently convicted of conspiracy and seven were sentenced to death. Although Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the remaining defendants in 1893, the Haymarket affair remains an important moment in the fight for workers’ rights.