In my last post, I had briefly mentioned Mother Jones as one of my role models as part of my Everyday Confident Series.
Among famous names like Lucille Ball and Martha Gellhorn, which a whopping two of you might know, Mother Jones may have seemed to pop out of an obscure children’s story book and onto my blog.
You would be surprised how often that happens, actually.
In this case, however, Mother Jones did not come from any storybook (like I had previously thought) despite her name’s similarity to Mother Goose. I’m sure that when she was alive, the confusion must have driven her insane.
For those of you who really don’t know who she is, I feel that it is important that you do.
In order to save you from agonizing research and killing suspense, here she is a short biography about Mother Jones that should explain why is one of my heroes.
Disclaimer: This portion of the blog may not have the same playful tone as the rest of my writing on here usually has (which I know my non-existent readers know and love). That is because it also doubles as my essay for AP US history. Happy reading Mr. ____. *
The Progressive Era marked a time in our country where the people really shaped and made the future, not the circumstances. Mary Harris Jones, or “Mother Jones” as she was called in her later years, was one of the decade’s most influential reformers who made the early 20th century such a pivotal time for social change and justice.
Mary Harris was born in August 1, 1837 in Cork County, Ireland. Her family moved to Canada when she was fifteen years old in order to escape the Great Famine. It was here that she received her Catholic education which she later used to become a teacher and dressmaker in the United States. After teaching in Michigan, she moved twice more until she settled in Memphis, Tennessee where she opened a dress shop and met her husband, a member of the National Union of Iron Moulders. In 1867, tragedy struck. Her husband and all of her four children were killed during the yellow fever epidemic. Once again, she packed and moved to Chicago to open a new dress shop. Also once again, tragedy struck; this time, Jones lost her business and home in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. At this point in her life, Mary Harris Jones decided to join the growing Labor Movement, finding strength from her life’s deepest misfortunes.
She began to work with the Knights of Labor before its demise after the Haymarket Riot. During her time with them, she cared for various mine and railroad workers, earning her the nickname “Mother Jones” from the grateful workers whom she proceeded to call “my boys.” From then on, she traveled and campaign for workers’ rights, joining the United Mine Workers and Socialist Party of America. She also campaigned heavily for child labor reform, leading the “Children’s Crusade from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Oyster Bay, New York, the home of current president, Theodore Roosevelt. Along with organizing protests, strikes, and meetings like this, Mother Jones was a gifted orator and gave many speeches during the labor movement that inspired many workers along with lawmakers. She became known as “the most dangerous woman in America” by West Virginia district attorney, Reese Blizzard. She continued her work until her death in which time she had been arrested multiple times, organized and participated in many strikes including the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912, and inspired powerful leaders like Rockefeller to make reforms for the working class. By the time she died November 30, 1930 at age 93, Mother Jones had left a potent and endearing mark in the American landscape that would set the stage for other progressive reformers of the century.
-that’s it. That’s my essay.
The main reason why I wanted to write it was because… well, I had to. It was homework.
The reason why I wanted to publish it on here was because I think in an era (this era) when people like Kim Kardashian and Honey Boo Boo are the most famous people in the country and celebrities and politicians alike are getting involved in philanthropy mostly for publicity and a nice photo-op, it’s nice to remind people of what a real hero was like; a person worthy of fame and honor.
Sure, if you read more into her, you might find some things that you disagree with. That doesn’t change the fact that Mother Jones was a character so strong that when I was doing research for her biography, my jaw dropped fifty times at what she had went through and what she had then still accomplished. How many people these days (influenced by unhealthy processed foods and pills that I’m not going to get into right now) would contemplate suicide after a particularly bad day at work? How many people would risk their life and perfect criminal background record in order to stand up for what they believe in? How many people these days would perform a good deed not because it looks good on a resume or TV reality show, but because it needed to be done?
So I give you Mother Jones, one of the most inspirational women I have ever heard of in my life and the only woman to ever make the scary-Victorian-lace-collar-and-black-dress-outfit look chic.
I salute you.
Your beloved blogger,
“Whatever your fight, don’t be ladylike.” ~Mother Jones