With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Obama gives a history lesson in Pittsburgh

Speaking at the AFL-CIO Convention in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Obama told cheering delegates:
The battle for opportunity has always been fought in places like Pennsylvania. It was here that Pittsburgh railroad workers rose up in a great strike. It was here that Homestead steelworkers took on Pinkerton Guards at Carnegie's mill. And it was here that something happened in a town called Aliquippa. It was a tough place for workers in the 1930s, "a benevolent dictatorship," said a local steel boss. Labor had no rights. The foreman's whim ruled the day. And the company hired workers from different lands and different races - the better to keep them divided, it was thought at the time. But despite threats and harassment; despite seeing organizers fired and driven out of town; these steelworkers came together - Serb and Croat, Italian and Pole, Irish and Greek, kin of Alabama slaves and sons of Pennsylvania coal miners. And they took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, securing the right to organize up and down the Ohio River Valley, and all across America. And I know that if America can come together like Aliquippa - and rise above barriers of faith and race, region and party - then we will not only make life better for steelworkers like Steve Skvara in Indiana, and not only make life better for members of the AFL-CIO, but we will make possible the dreams of middle class families and make real the promise of the United States of America.

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