Working women lead the fight
Published Mar 19, 2009 8:01 PM
International Women’s Day and International Working Women’s Month
were celebrated on March 14 at a forum hosted by Workers World Party. Male
comrades prepared a delicious dinner, set up the hall and provided music for
WW photo: Alan Pollock
The program began with the showing of “With Babies and Banners,” an
award-winning documentary depicting the role of women in the victorious Flint
sit-down strike of 1937. The 1979 film, directed by Lorraine Gray, contains
interviews with nine members of the Women’s Emergency Brigade.
The women vividly recount their actions in supporting the sit-downers and
taking on General Motors’ goons and cops. Newsreel clips from the period
show them smashing the windows of a GM factory to allow tear gas to escape
after cops attacked the strikers.
Lee Booth, a WWP member from Ypsilanti, Mich., gave a revolutionary talk on
women and class struggle. She talked about working women in the 18th and 19th
centuries and dispelled the myth that women only relatively recently started
working outside the home.
Booth told about the 1937 sit-down strike at Woolworth’s department store
in downtown Detroit, in which women workers won union recognition and better
pay and working conditions. From these struggles to the women’s
liberation movement of the early 1970s, to the anti-woman welfare reform
enacted by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Booth showed how
“working-class women have always struggled for their very
Sandra Hines, an organizer with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop
Foreclosures and Evictions, spoke about justice for women and how women have
always been in the forefront of struggles to improve the lives of the entire
working class. Hines gave many examples of such women, including those in the
Laundry Workers Union and Cigar Makers, the Working Women’s Association,
Ida B. Wells Barnett, Marie Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Maxine Waters and many
others. Her militant talk tied in lessons from the past to women’s
current struggles for economic and social justice.
Martha Grevatt from Cleveland was the featured guest speaker on women in the
labor struggles of the 1930s and the rise of the Congress of Industrial
Organizations. Grevatt is a Chrysler auto worker and executive board member of
UAW Local 122 in Twinsburg, Ohio, and author of the forthcoming book, “In
Our Hands Is Placed a Power: The Flint Sit-Down Strike.” Her fiery talk
highlighted the role of women in winning unions and improving living conditions
for the entire working class.
See Grevatt’s articles from March 2008 at:
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE