MAY DAY

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Most folks from United States appear to know very little about the International Workers' Day of May also known as Day. For many, there is an assumption that it is a holiday celebrated in state communist countries like Cuba, China, or Russia.

Most Americans don't realize that May Day has its origins here in this country and is as American as empty baseball stadiums and and apple pie, which by the way were first made by early Romans. But lets not regress. May Day stemmed from the pre-Christian holiday of Beltane, a celebration of rebirth and fertility.

At its national convention in Chicago, held in 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, which later became the American Federation of Labor, proclaimed that eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labor from and after May 1, 1886.

On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. In Chicago, the epicenter for the 8-hour day agitators, 40,000 went out on strike with the anarchists in the forefront of the public's eye.

The next year, the FOTLU, backed by many Knights of Labor locals, reiterated their proclamation stating that it would be supported by strikes and demonstrations. At first, most radicals and anarchists regarded this demand as too reformist, failing to strike "at the root of the evil." A year before the Haymarket Massacre, Samuel Fielden pointed out in the anarchist newspaper, The Alarm, that whether a man works eight hours a day or ten hours a day, he is still a slave. How times have changed.