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Ever heard of union hero Joe Hill? He's missing from most history books today.

Joe Hill remains a legend and an inspiration today.

If you're a fan of folk music or lyrics about working people, you might be familiar with the song "Joe Hill."

The song, originally written as a poem by Alfred Hayes, has been performed for decades by the likes of Paul Robeson, Joan Baez (at Woodstock in 1969), Phil Ochs, and Billy Bragg.

Among the more memorable renditions is a version by Bruce Springsteen, who plays it here. Go ahead and start it playing while you read about who Joe Hill really was.


The song's lyrics recall a dream where Joe Hill, a workers' hero who was likely framed on a murder charge and sentenced to death, returns in a seemingly spectral form, symbolizing the spirit of the labor movement.

"I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, But Joe, you're 10 years dead
I never died, says he
I never died, says he..."



Joe Hill isn't a fictional character. He was a poet, songwriter, and a union activist.

(He also inspired the famous union phrase "Don't mourn, organize!" — but more on that later.)

Born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, he came to the U.S. from Sweden in the early 1900s with the hopes of finding work. He adapted to his new home by changing his name to Joseph Hillstrom, which he later shortened to Joe Hill once he began to write songs.

Upon arrival in New York City, he sought employment as a migrant laborer but found opportunities sporadic and sometimes nonexistent. This sparked his interest in a labor union, which would give him and his coworkers a voice on the job no matter where they worked.

Image in public domain.

He found his calling when he discovered the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

One of the IWW rallying cries was "one big union," and its goal was uniting every working person worldwide into one union. That sat very well with Hill.

Having been raised in a musical family, he began writing songs, poems, and powerful speeches after joining the IWW. He became the resident lyricist and a frequent cartoonist.

Hill wrote songs about all different types of IWW members, from immigrant factory and railway workers to itinerant laborers moving across the country from job to job. His songs inspired people — and still do today.

His popularity grew when the IWW published the first version of its "Little Red Songbook" in 1909. The musical collection, bearing the subtitle "Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent," was made up mostly of Hill's compositions.

The first edition of "The Little Red Songbook." Image by Hunter Gray.

It included the song "There Is Power in a Union" about ... well, power in a union, and "The Preacher and the Slave," about how religion causes people to fight for things in heaven rather than on earth:

You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You'll get pie in the sky when you die
[Crowd shouts, "That's a lie!"]



(This is, in fact, where the phrase "pie in the sky" was born.)

Hill would show up at picket lines and strikes across the country, getting the crowd energized and resolute.

His activism drew the attention of authorities, too.

In June 1913, he was arrested for "vagrancy" during a dockworkers strike in San Pedro, California, and put in jail for 30 days. The real reason for the incarceration, according to Hill, was that he "was a little too active to suit the chief of the burg."

So, Hill was on the radar of cops and politicians who didn't want to see unions establishing a presence in their towns. He may have been even more worrisome to authorities than other union leaders since he could energize the workers and reinforce their solidarity with song.

Cover of "The Rebel Girl" by Joe Hill. First published in "The Little Red Songbook," it was released as sheet music in 1915. Image in public domain.

But one cold night in 1914, a turn of events made Joe Hill's name internationally known.

Hill, who was in Salt Lake City to work in the mines, knocked on a doctor's door at 11:30 p.m., needing treatment for a gunshot wound to his chest.

Hill told the doctor he had been shot by a rival suitor for a woman's affection — he never did tell anybody her name.

On that same night, a former police officer named John Morrison, now a grocery store owner, and one of his sons were killed by two people who didn't rob the store.

The murders appeared to be motivated by revenge, perhaps a holdover from Morrison's previous career. Another of Morrison's sons witnessed the shooting and stated that one of the two killers shouted, "We've got you now!" before pulling the trigger.

(And just to note: At least four other people were shot in Salt Lake City that night; it's just kinda how things were back then.)


Salt Lake City, 1890, by Charles Roscoe Savage. Image in public domain.

The doctor who tended to Hill's injuries noted that it was a gunshot to the chest — the same kind as the shopkeeper's surviving son said occurred with the intruder who killed his father and brother.

Over the next few days, 12 different men were arrested for the killings — and each, in succession, was released.

Around the time that the 12th man was cleared, the doctor came forward and offered his patient as a possible suspect. Hill was arrested.

When the grocer's son who survived saw Joe, he stated, "That's not him at all!" However, a few days later after the publicity started and authorities knew they had the famous Joe Hill, he changed his mind and claimed it was definitely Hill he saw that night.

Several aspects of the case made Hill an unlikely suspect.

His injury, a shot through the left lung, would have bled profusely. Yet authorities did not find any blood in the store other than the victims'. No bullet was ever found, nor was there a motive; Joe did not know the shopkeeper, and the assailants didn't even take the money in the register.

The trial itself was a poor excuse for justice, according to author William Adler. Although two young, unknown attorneys volunteered to defend Hill, it became clear partway through that they weren't doing anything of the sort. Hill requested new lawyers, which the judge refused. From that point on, Hill refused to participate in the trial at all, and remained silent.

(In a letter written in 1949, the woman who was there when Hill was shot, Hilda Erickson, confessed that it was her former fiance and a friend of Joe Hill's, Otto Appelquist, who shot him that fateful night.)

After just a few hours, the jury found the 35-year-old guilty. He spent 22 months in prison while he awaited appeals of his sentence: execution by firing squad.

Image via Today in Labor History. Lyrics from the song "Workers of the World, Awaken!"

The IWW sought help from other labor unions around the world, and support began to build.

Backers demanding his release and a retrial sent tens of thousands of letters and circulated petitions.

Among those advocates were then-President Woodrow Wilson, the Swedish minister to the United States, 30,000 Australian IWW members, American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers, and trade unions across the world. Even Helen Keller, the famed deaf and blind activist (who also belonged to the IWW), wrote to the president on Hill's behalf.

The efforts targeted Utah Gov. William Spry, who had been elected to office on a platform that stated he would "sweep out lawless elements, whether they be corrupt businessmen or IWW agitators." Unsurprisingly, he did not intercede on Hill's behalf.

The IWW logo, featuring one of its main slogans: "An Injury to One Is an Injury to All." After Joe Hill was executed, it was really taken to heart.


The governor's record was clear: He had broken a large mineworkers strike and helped the Utah Copper Company bring in strikebreakers who used hired thugs to defeat the union there. Not surprisingly, this did not help Hill one bit.

There's a famous union phrase: "Don't mourn — organize!" Here's the origin story.

While in prison, Hill kept writing poetry, music, letters, and more. In a Aug. 15, 1915, article in the weekly political magazine Appeal to Reason, he stated:

"The main and only fact worth considering, however, is this: I never killed Morrison and do not know a thing about it. He was, as the records plainly show, killed by some enemy for the sake of revenge, and I have not been in the city long enough to make an enemy.

Shortly before my arrest I came down from Park City; where I was working in the mines. Owing to the prominence of Mr Morrison, there had to be a 'goat' and the undersigned being, as they thought, a friendless tramp, a Swede, and worst of all, an IWW, had no right to live anyway, and was therefore duly selected to be 'the goat'.

I have always worked hard for a living and paid for everything I got, and in my spare time I spend by painting pictures, writing songs and composing music.

Now, if the people of the state of Utah want to shoot me without giving me half a chance to state my side of the case, bring on your firing squads - I am ready for you. I have lived like an artist and I shall die like an artist."





In one of his last letters, when writing to IWW founding member and leader William Dudley Haywood (better known as "Big Bill" Haywood), he wrote these practical yet poignant words:

"Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize... Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don't want to be found dead in Utah."

Haywood changed that to the phrase that has been used by union activists ever since: "Don't mourn — Organize!"

The memory of Joe Hill's words lives on in the hearts of working people the world over.

Hill died on Nov. 19, 1915. According to author Philip Sheldon Foner, when the firing squad was instructed, "Ready ... aim," Joe Hill himself issued the final order before the commander: "Yes, aim! Let 'er go. Fire!"

30,000 people came to his funeral in Chicago. Eulogies were translated into 10 languages. The mourners sang songs by Hill and shut down traffic for hours as the funeral procession stretched for miles. Many had IWW patches, pennants, and red ribbons with the words, "Joe Hill, murdered by the authorities of the state of Utah, November the 19th, 1915."

Especially in times like these, when unions in the United States are very much on the ropes, it's good to remember the words from "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night," aka "Joe Hill" — "I never died, says he. I never died, says he."

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, But Joe, you're ten years dead
I never died, says he
I never died, says he

In Salt Lake, Joe, says I to him
Him standing by my bed
They framed you on a murder charge
Says Joe, But I ain't dead
Says Joe, But I ain't dead

The copper bosses killed you, Joe
They shot you, Joe, says I
Takes more than guns to kill a man
Says Joe, I didn't die
Says Joe, I didn't die

And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says, What they forgot to kill
Went on to organize
Went on to organize

Joe Hill ain't dead, he says to me
Joe Hill ain't never died
Where working men are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side
Joe Hill is at their side

From San Diego up to Maine
In every mine and mill
Where workers strike and organize
Says he, You'll find Joe Hill
Says he, You'll find Joe Hill

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, But Joe, you're ten years dead
I never died, says he
I never died, says he







































Joe Hill's story is nearly 100 years old, but it still is not often told in schoolhouses and history books today. Why do you think that is?

Image from Pixabay.

Under the sea...

True
The Wilderness Society


You're probably familiar with the literary classic "Moby-Dick."

But in case you're not, here's the gist: Moby Dick is the name of a huge albino sperm whale.

(Get your mind outta the gutter.)


There's this dude named Captain Ahab who really really hates the whale, and he goes absolutely bonkers in his quest to hunt and kill it, and then everything is awful and we all die unsatisfied with our shared sad existence and — oops, spoilers!


OK, technically, the narrator Ishmael survives. So it's actually a happy ending (kind of)!

whales, Moby Dick, poaching endangered species

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Basically, it's a famous book about revenge and obsession that was published back in 1851, and it's really, really long.

It's chock-full of beautiful passages and dense symbolism and deep thematic resonance and all those good things that earned it a top spot in the musty canon of important literature.

There's also a lot of mundane descriptions about the whaling trade as well (like, a lot). That's because it came out back when commercial whaling was still a thing we did.

conservation, ocean water conservation

A non-albino mother and baby sperm whale.

Photo by Gabriel Barathieu/Wikipedia.

In fact, humans used to hunt more than 50,000 whales each year to use for oil, meat, baleen, and oil. (Yes, I wrote oil twice.) Then, in 1946, the International Whaling Commission stepped in and said "Hey, wait a minute, guys. There's only a few handful of these majestic creatures left in the entire world, so maybe we should try to not kill them anymore?"

And even then, commercial whaling was still legal in some parts of the world until as recently as 1986.

International Whaling Commission, harpoons

Tail in the water.

Whale's tail pale ale GIF via GoPro/YouTube

And yet by some miracle, there are whales who were born before "Moby-Dick" was published that are still alive today.

What are the odds of that? Honestly it's hard to calculate since we can't exactly swim up to a bowhead and say, "Hey, how old are you?" and expect a response. (Also that's a rude question — jeez.)

Thanks to some thoughtful collaboration between researchers and traditional Inupiat whalers (who are still allowed to hunt for survival), scientists have used amino acids in the eyes of whales and harpoon fragments lodged in their carcasses to determine the age of these enormous animals — and they found at least three bowhead whales who were living prior to 1850.

Granted those are bowheads, not sperm whales like the fictional Moby Dick, (and none of them are albino, I think), but still. Pretty amazing, huh?

whale blubber, blue whales, extinction

This bowhead is presumably in adolescence, given its apparent underwater moping.

GIF via National Geographic.

This is a particularly remarkable feat considering that the entire species was dwindling near extinction.

Barring these few centenarian leviathans, most of the whales still kickin' it today are between 20 and 70 years old. That's because most whale populations were reduced to 10% or less of their numbers between the 18th and 20th centuries, thanks to a few over-eager hunters (and by a few, I mean all of them).

Today, sperm whales are considered one of the most populous species of massive marine mammals; bowheads, on the other hand, are still in trouble, despite a 20% increase in population since the mid-1980s. Makes those few elderly bowheads that much more impressive, huh?

population, Arctic, Great Australian Blight

Southern Right Whales hangin' with a paddleboarder in the Great Australian Bight.

GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

Unfortunately, just as things are looking up, these wonderful whales are in trouble once again.

We might not need to worry our real-life Captain Ahabs anymore, but our big aquatic buddies are still being threatened by industrialization — namely, from oil drilling in the Arctic and the Great Australian Bight.

In the off-chance that companies like Shell and BP manage not to spill millions of gallons of harmful crude oil into the water, the act of drilling alone is likely to maim or kill millions of animals, and the supposedly-safer sonic blasting will blow out their eardrums or worse.

This influx of industrialization also affects their migratory patterns — threatening not only the humans who depend on them, but also the entire marine ecosystem.

And I mean, c'mon — who would want to hurt this adorable face?

social responsibility, nature, extinction

BOOP.

Image from Pixabay.

Whales might be large and long-living. But they still need our help to survive.

If you want another whale to make it to his two-hundred-and-eleventy-first birthday (which you should because I hear they throw great parties), then sign this petition to protect the waters from Big Oil and other industrial threats.

I guarantee Moby Dick will appreciate it.


This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

Identity

Do you have a 'gay voice'? Here's how to tell.

Have you ever wondered if you have a “gay voice”?

Photo pulled from YouTube trailer "Do I sound gay?"

For anyone who's wondering if they have a gay voice and what that actually means.

This article originally appeared on June 5, 2015


Have you ever wondered if you have a “gay voice”?

If you're anything like me, the answer is yes. Many times.

For anyone who’s laid awake wondering if your voice is just as gay as you are, I've created a rigorous test for you to finally get some answers. Follow the chart below to see if you, in fact, sound like a homosexual. ***(Image needs to pulled from Robbie Couch who wrote the article.)


Temporary pic pulled as a place holder

Temporary pic pulled as a place holder******

Yes, that's correct: You do not have a "gay voice" — because a "gay voice" is not really a thing.

Unlike humans, voices do not identify as certain genders or sexual orientations. They're just ... sounds. (Crazy, I know!)

Stereotypes about what LGBTQ people sound like lead some to think their gay-dar can accurately sniff out queer folks in a crowd based on voices alone. However, research shows we actually do a pretty poor job at guessing another person's sexual orientation solely using our ears.

Even if we do wear our queerness on the tips of our tongues, though, why should it matter?

Some LGBTQ people fret over their voice, fearful their queerness is on display every time they speak. And that concern is understandable. Sometimes, it's not a matter of accepting yourself, but a matter of survival: When your voice outs you as an "other" in an environment that's hostile toward gay, transgender, or otherwise queer people, personal safety becomes a priority.

“A lot of gay men are self-conscious about sounding gay because we were persecuted for that when we were young," LGBTQ activist and media personality Dan Savage said in the 2014 documentary "Do I Sound Gay?"

CNN's Don Lemon, who is openly gay, also chimed in on the topic. Has he ever felt insecure about "sounding gay"? “I’d have to say, if I told you ‘no,’ I’d be lying," Lemon admitted in the documentary.

But we should never let a bully's bigotry convince us our voices should be silenced. You sound perfect the way you are, honey — and don't you forget it.

Checking out the documentary "Do I Sound Gay?", available on multiple streaming platforms. Here's a look at the trailer:

This article was written by Robbie Couch and originally appeared on 11.5.15

@geaux75/TikTok

Molly was found tied to a tree by the new owners of the house.

Molly, an adorable, affectionate 10-year-old pit bull, found herself tied to a tree after her owners had abandoned her.

According to The Dodo, Molly had “always been a loyal dog, but, unfortunately, her first family couldn’t reciprocate that same love back,” and so when the house was sold, neither Molly nor the family’s cat was chosen to move with them. While the cat was allowed to free roam outside, all Molly could do was sit and wait. Alone.

Luckily, the young couple that bought the house agreed to take the animals in as part of their closing agreement, and as soon as the papers were signed, they rushed over to check in.

In a TikTok video, April Parker, the new homeowner, walks up to Molly, who is visibly crestfallen with teary eyes. But as soon as Parker begins cooing, “Baby girl…you’re gonna get a new home,” the pitty instantly perks up—all smiles and tail wagging.

“We are going to make her life so good,” Parker wrote in the video’s caption. “She will never be left all alone tied to a tree.”

@geaux75 The people that sold our house to us left behind their 10yr old dog they had since it was a puppy. I was so stressed we wouldnt get the house and something bad would happeb to her. We are going to maje her life so good. She will never be left all alone tied to a tree. 😭😢@roodytoots ♬ Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) [2018 Remaster] - Kate Bush

The video has been seen upwards of 4 million times. Countless people commented on how enraging it was to see a dog treated so carelessly.

“I’ve had my dog since she was 7 weeks old. She just turned 10 a few days ago. I literally cannot imagine doing this,” one person wrote.”

Another added: “The tears in her eyes…she doesn’t understand why they could just leave her, it breaks my heart. People like that shouldn’t be allowed to be pet owners.”

Subsequent videos show Parker freeing Molly from her leash and introducing the sweet pup to her husband, with whom she was instantly smitten. It’s clear that this doggo was both relieved and elated to be taken in by her new family.

Since being rescued, Molly has accompanied her new mom and dad everywhere.

@geaux75 Replying to @ohitscourtney ♬ Lucky Girl - Carlina


“She’s sticking to our side,” Parker wrote. “She won’t stop following us around. It’s so sweet.”

Parker has created an entire TikTok channel documenting her newfound pet’s journey, aptly named “Molly’s New Life,” showing Molly enjoying warm baths, plenty of treats, cuddles…all the finer things in life.

But what Molly seems to enjoy most of all is car rides:

@geaux75 Taking Molly to get a treat! Stay tuned!! #mollysnewlife #goodgollymissmolly ♬ original sound - Mollysnewlife 🐾🐕💗

And in case you’re wondering, the kitty is doing well, too, though it still prefers to stay outdoors.

Molly also has two indoor cat siblings who instantly welcomed her into the family. The video below shows one of them, Joofus, comforting a trembling Molly with kisses during a thunderstorm.

@geaux75 We had a big storm this morning and Molly was having a hard time. Joofus got on the bed and started comforting her. It was the sweetest thing. They got snuggled up and Molly went to sleep. Animals are amazing. #mollysnewlife #petsarefamily ♬ I Won't Let Go - Rascal Flatts

It seems that Molly has gotten the safe, loving home she’s deserved all along.

We know that animal abandonment is fairly common. According to The Zebra, almost 4 million dogs are either given up to shelters or abandoned each year. And still, it’s really hard to fathom how humans can treat such innocent creatures with such blatant disregard when they provide so much pure joy.

Thankfully, there are folks out there like the Parkers who know that taking care of animals like Molly is one of life’s most precious offerings.

Stay up-to-date with the rest of Molly’s journey by following her on TikTok.


This article originally appeared on 5.31.23

Identity

High school girl’s response to ‘Ugly Girls’ poll inspires positive reaction

This brave high school student stood up to her school’s cyberbullies.

Lynelle Cantwell/Facebook.

Lynelle Cantwell had a response on her own Facebook page.

Lynelle Cantwell is in 12th grade at Holy Trinity High School in Torbay, Newfoundland and Labrador (that's Canada).

On Monday, she found out that she had been featured on another student's anonymous online poll entitled "Ugly Girls in Grade 12," along with several other classmates.


Cantwell responded via Facebook with her own message, which has already been shared more than 2,000 times and counting.

cyber bullying, bullies, kindness

The unkind poll.

Lynelle Cantwell/Facebook.

Take a look:

bullying, brave response, community support

“Just because we don’t look perfect on the outside does not mean we are ugly.” - Lynelle Cantwell.

Lynelle Cantwell/Facebook.

Since posting her brave response on Facebook, more people have come out to show support than people who voted in the first place.

Check out some of the responses:

appreciation, confidence, self esteem, love and support

Some responses to her post.

Lynelle Cantwell/Facebook.

The School District of Newfoundland and Labrador has announced that it will be looking into the incident further. For Cantwell, the positive outpouring of love and support vastly outweighs the initial cyberbullying and is raising her confidence in new ways.


This article originally appeared on 08.20.17

Health

Artists got fed up with these 'anti-homeless spikes.' So they made them a bit more ... comfy.

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

Photo courtesy of CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy

Spikes line the concrete to prevent sleeping.


These are called "anti-homeless spikes." They're about as friendly as they sound.

As you may have guessed, they're intended to deter people who are homeless from sitting or sleeping on that concrete step. And yeah, they're pretty awful.

The spikes are a prime example of how cities design spaces to keep homeless people away.


Not all concrete steps have spikes on them, but outdoor seating in cities like Montreal and Tokyo have been sneakily designed to prevent people from resting too comfortably for too long.

This guy sawing through a bench was part of a 2006 protest in Toulouse, France, where public seating intentionally included armrests to prevent people from lying down.

Of course, these designs do nothing to fight the cause or problem of homelessness. They're just a way of saying to homeless people, "Go somewhere else. We don't want to look at you,"basically.

One particular set of spikes was outside a former night club in London. And a local group got sick of staring at them.

Leah Borromeo is part of the art collective "Space, Not Spikes" — a group that's fed up with what she describes as "hostile architecture."

"Spikes do nothing more than shoo the realities of poverty and inequality away from your backyard — so you don't have to see it or confront what you can do to make things more equal," Borromeo told Upworthy. "And that is really selfish."

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

charity, social consciousness, artist

A bed covers up spikes on the concrete.

assets.rebelmouse.io

The move by Space, Not Spikes has caused quite a stir in London and around the world. The simple but impactful idea even garnered support from music artist Ellie Goulding.

"That was amazing, wasn't it?" Borromeo said of Goulding's shout-out on Instagram.

books, philanthropy, capitalism

Artist's puppy books and home comforts.

assets.rebelmouse.io

"[The project has] definitely touched a nerve and I think it is because, as a whole, humans will still look out for each other," Borromeo told Upworthy. "Capitalism and greed conditions us to look out for ourselves and negate the welfare of others, but ultimately, I think we're actually really kind."

"We need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."
anti-homeless laws, legislation, panhandling

A message to offer support in contrast with current anti-homeless laws.

assets.rebelmouse.io

These spikes may be in London, but the U.S. definitely has its fair share of anti-homeless sentiment, too.

Spikes are pretty obvious — they're a visual reminder of a problem many cities are trying to ignore. But what we can't see on the street is the rise of anti-homeless laws that have cropped up from sea to shining sea.

Legislation that targets homeless people — like bans on panhandling and prohibiting people from sleeping in cars — has increased significantly in recent years.

For instance, a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty that analyzed 187 American cities found that there's been a 43% hike in citywide bans on sitting or lying down in certain spaces since 2011.

Thankfully, groups like "Space, Not Spikes" are out there changing hearts and minds. But they need our help.

The group created a video to complement its work and Borromeo's hoping its positive underlying message will motivate people to do better.

"[The world] won't always be happy-clappy because positive social change needs constructive conflict and debate," she explained. "But we need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."

Check out their video below:

This article originally appeared on 07.24.15