Boston May Day 2023
International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, is celebrated annually on May 1st to honor the contributions and rights of working people around the world. The holiday has its origins in the labor movement of the late 19th century and is now observed in countries throughout the world.
The history of International Workers’ Day dates back to May 1, 1886, when thousands of workers in the United States took to the streets to demand an eight-hour workday. The demonstrations were part of a broader labor movement that had been growing in the US and other industrialized countries since the mid-1800s. However, the protests turned violent when a bomb exploded during a rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886. The incident resulted in the deaths of several police officers and protesters, leading to the arrest and execution of several labor leaders who had organized the demonstrations.
In the aftermath of the Haymarket affair, the labor movement in the US and other countries began to organize annual demonstrations on May 1st to honor the workers who had fought for better working conditions and to demand further improvements in labor rights. May Day was declared an official holiday by the International Socialist Conference in 1889, and it has been celebrated annually ever since.
Today, International Workers’ Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, including Mexico, Cuba, China, and most of Europe. The holiday is often marked by parades, rallies, and other public events that celebrate the contributions of workers and promote labor rights. In some countries, it is also an occasion for political demonstrations and protests.
The message of International Workers’ Day is as important today as it was in the late 19th century. Despite significant progress in labor rights over the past century, workers around the world continue to face a range of challenges, including low wages, unsafe working conditions, and limited job security. In addition, the growth of automation and globalization has led to the displacement of many jobs, particularly in manufacturing and other industries that were once key employers of working-class people.
In response to these challenges, the labor movement has continued to advocate for better working conditions and protections for workers around the world. This includes efforts to raise the minimum wage, improve workplace safety, and secure better benefits and job security for workers in all industries.
As we celebrate International Workers’ Day, we should take a moment to honor the contributions of working people around the world and to rededicate ourselves to the ongoing struggle for labor rights and social justice. By working together, we can build a world where all people have the opportunity to earn a decent living and to enjoy the benefits of economic prosperity.
In addition to honoring the contributions of workers, May Day rallies and events often highlight the intersection between labor rights and social justice issues, such as human rights, immigration, and environmentalism. Many labor unions and worker organizations have formed alliances with social movements and advocacy groups to address these issues and advocate for a more equitable society.
For example, in many countries, May Day rallies include calls for immigration reform and an end to discrimination against immigrants. In the United States, May Day rallies often include participation from immigrant rights groups, who advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and an end to the mistreatment of immigrants, including detention and deportation.
Similarly, May Day events in many countries also focus on human rights issues, such as the rights of women, people of color, and LGBTQIA2S+ individuals. These rallies often highlight the need for equal pay, access to healthcare, and an end to discrimination based on gender, race, or sexual orientation.
The climate emergency is another issue that is often highlighted at May Day rallies. As the impacts of climate change become increasingly severe, workers and labor organizations are calling for a transition to a more sustainable economy and the creation of green jobs. This includes efforts to promote renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, and protect the environment for future generations.
In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on workers and labor rights around the world. May Day events in 2020 and 2021 focused on the need for worker protections during the pandemic, including personal protective equipment, hazard pay, and access to healthcare.
In summary, May Day rallies and events are not only a celebration of the contributions of workers, but also an opportunity to highlight the intersection between labor rights and social justice issues. By working together, labor unions, social movements, and advocacy groups can build a more equitable and sustainable society that protects the rights and dignity of all people.
Boston, Massachusetts, played a significant role in the history of May Day in the United States. In 1886, the city's labor unions joined the nationwide movement to demand an eight-hour workday and better working conditions. The Boston Central Labor Union, which represented a wide range of trades, organized a series of rallies and parades throughout the week of May 1st.
On May 1st, 1886, an estimated 25,000 workers in Boston went on strike to demand the eight-hour workday. The strike was initially successful, with many businesses closing in support of the workers.
Despite police violence and repression, the labor movement in Boston and throughout the United States continued to push for better working conditions and greater rights for workers. In the years that followed, May Day became a symbol of the labor movement's struggle for justice and equality.
In the decades that followed, May Day continued to be observed in Boston and other cities around the United States. The holiday was officially recognized as International Workers' Day by the International Socialist Conference in 1889 and has been celebrated around the world ever since.
Today, May Day rallies and events in Boston continue to honor the contributions of workers and advocate for labor rights and social justice issues.
Despite the challenges that workers continue to face, the history of May Day in Boston and around the world serves as a reminder of the power of collective action and the importance of fighting for justice and equality.
The Boston May Day Coalition is a grassroots organization that was formed in 2006 to organize May Day events and rallies in Boston. The coalition includes a diverse group of organizations, including labor unions, community groups, and advocacy organizations. The coalition has organized a wide range of events over the years, including rallies, marches, and cultural celebrations.
In 2006, May 1st was chosen by mostly Latino immigrant groups in the United States as the day for the Great American Boycott, a general strike of undocumented immigrant workers and supporters to protest immigration reform legislation that they felt was draconian & discriminatory. From 10 April to 1 May of that year, immigrant families in the U.S. called for immigrant rights, workers' rights and amnesty for undocumented workers. They were joined by socialist and other leftist organizations on 1 May. Boston May Day Coalition participated & successfully mobilized 10,000 people into the streets of Boston on April 10th, and over 5000 for its first ever May Day as Boston May Day Coalition.
One of the coalition's most significant accomplishments was the passage of the Boston Trust Act in 2014. The act prohibits Boston police from detaining individuals solely on the basis of their immigration status, and it was the result of years of advocacy and organizing by Boston May Day Coalition members and Boston area immigrant rights groups.
Today, the Boston May Day Coalition continues to be a leading voice for workers' rights and social justice in Boston and beyond. Its work serves as a reminder of the importance of collective action and the power of grassroots organizing to create real change in communities.
Boston May Day 2023 will be on May 1st , with a rally at 5pm at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, followed by a march throughout the city.
Speakers and cosponsoring organizations for May Day 2023 include;
Boston May Day Coalition
Green Rainbow Party of Massachusetts
Cambridge City Growers
New Democracy Coalition
United American Indians of New England
Jewish Voice for Peace
Black Lives Matter Rhode Island
Workers World Party - Boston
North American Indian Center of Boston
Community Church of Boston
Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front of Massachusetts
African People’s Socialist Party
Anarchist Black Cross - Boston
Community Advocates for Justice and Equality
COS New England
DSA Socialist Feminism Working Group
Progressive Labor Party
Revolutionary Blackout Network
Natick Black Lives Matter
Boston Independent Socialist Group
Red Strike Project
International Marxist Tendency
Communities Responding to Extreme Weather
Inspiring Today’s Youth.
Extinction Rebellion Boston
Palestinian Youth Movement
Boston South Asian Coalition
Julian Assange Defense - Boston
Boston Teachers Union
St. Vincents' Nurses Union
Justice is Global
Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
Battle First Aid Responder Services
Burhan Rebels / Trans rights /LGBTQIAS2+
Boston Education Justice Alliance
Starbucks Workers United Massachusetts
Bishop of the Diocese Of Saint Francis of Assisi
July 26 Coalition - Boston Cuba Solidarity
Massachusetts Peace Action
Mass Action Against Police Brutality
Pride at Work - Eastern Massachusetts
In addition to the above endorsing organizations, additional speakers include the families of victims of police brutality & murder in Massachusetts
Eric Mack ( Anthony Harden's family)
Dimex (Larry Ruiz Hernandez's family)
Carla Sheffeild (Burrell Ramsey White's mother)
Dyani Tisdol (sister of William Tisdol)
Tina Degree (Moses Harris's family)
Jenelle Ambroise (Christopher Diven’s mother).
There will also be music: 4:30pm-5pm
Joe Messina - will perform revolutionary punk rock
Kristin Turgeon - will perform revolutionary folk
Food will be available courtesy Boston Food Activists
For additional information and/or inquiries contact
email: info[@]bostonmayday.org (don't use brackets).
join BMDC listserv: mayday-subscribe[@]lists.riseup.net (don't use brackets).
We acknowledge the traditional, ancestral, & unceded territory of the Massa-adchu-es-et, Agawam, Pawtucket and Naumkeag First Nations on which we are living, learning, working and organizing today. As an activist, I commit myself to the struggle against the systems of oppression that have dispossessed Indigenous people of their lands and denied their rights to self-determination, work that is essential to human rights work across the world.