About the Play
Less than a hundred years ago, two million American children worked countless hours for as little 10 cents a day – their parents worked in coal mines and textile mills with no job security, few protections and no legal right to organize. Thankfully much has changed. One of the principal reasons was an Irish-American firebrand named Mother Jones.
Born in Ireland, Mother Jones survived the potato famine and after emigrating to the US, she lived through the Civil War and the great Chicago fire. Her personal life mirrored the tragedies about her. She lost not only her husband, but all four of her small children. Unable to save her own family she would dedicate her life to protecting and saving others.
For fifty years she organized miners in West Virginia and Colorado, steelworkers in Pennsylvania and Ohio; she worked for rail workers, organized in the breweries and cotton mills. She became the face of the labor movement, crossing back and forth across America. She committed her life to workers and their families. When asked where she resided she responded "all over this country, wherever there is a good fight against wrong. My address is like my shoes; it travels with me." She spoke to sold out houses at Carnegie Hall, testified before Congress and met with four of our presidents.
Shortly after her death in 1930 Congress passed federal legislation protecting the rights of American workers. With a nation in crisis, labor on the ropes and the gap between rich and poor growing by the day – her words once again ring true and clear.
Mother Jones is brought to life by Obie Award winner, Kaiulani Lee. The play is drawn from Mother Jones's autobiography, her letters, speeches, interviews and transcripts.
About Mother Jones
Mother Jones was a voice we were never supposed to hear. She was old in a society fixated on youth, a woman in a society that honored men, poor in a society that revered wealth and an immigrant in a society that looked askance at those not native born. Mother Jones, one of the earliest woman organizers, worked tirelessly for 50 years, educating, agitating and organizing for the rights of workers and their families. She faced down guns and militias, was imprisoned time and again and spent months at a time in solitary confinement.
She was known as the miners' angel, the protector of children, and was denounced in the U. S. Senate as the most dangerous woman in America. Upton Sinclair said of her, "She had force, she had wit, but above all she had the fire of indignation. She was the walking wrath of God." She is remembered for her unflinching courage and her clarion voice that spoke to working people of their human rights and dignity.