If you believe singer Utah Phillips, the long memory is the most radical notion in this country today. It is in that vein some of us gather tonight in Providence at the Roger Williams Park Casino to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Rhode Island Labor History Society. For a quarter century Rhode Island’s organizers, trouble-makers, boat-rockers, dissatisfied and disaffected with the status quo have met, sometimes under cover of darkness, to meet and pass along the stories of the heroes of our past. People like Seth Luther, Ann “the Red Flame” Burlak , and Rita “the Girl in Green” Brouillette. Songs of struggles are song, memorizing the battles at the Woonsocket Rubber Company in 1885 when the Knights of Labor went up against a Knight of St. Gregory, and the 1934 Battle of the Gravestones, when the State Police massacred striking workers, creating the conditions necessary for TF Green’s “Bloodless” Revolution, and the death of Wilma Schesler, martyred in 1974 on a picket line for public sector workers.
Tonight the Society honors its founder, Professor Scott Molloy. A hero for our times, no strike or rally is complete without a harangue against the injustices of our modern world and the economic royalists and all of their accumulated power from Brother Molloy. As the invitation from the society reads:
University of Rhode Island Professor Scott Molloy will be honored by the Rhode Island Labor History Society during its 25th annual awards banquet, Aug. 23.
The event, “A Celebration of Labor Day in Rhode Island,” will be held at the Roger Williams Park Casino in Providence. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. Donation is $25 for individuals or $250 for a table of 10.
Molloy is founder of the Rhode Island Labor History Society and was a bus driver, shop steward and business agent for the Transit Union from 1973 to 1984. He has been a URI professor in its Schmidt Labor Research Center since 1986, and he has been education director for the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial since 1996. He is the author of Trolley Wars; Irish Titan, Irish Toilers; and All Aboard.
The West Kingston resident, known for his colorful and fiery lectures at URI and before civic and labor groups around the region, was awarded the URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award in 1995.
In 2004, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education chose the West Kingston resident as its Rhode Island Professor of the Year.
Presenters at the event will be:
• Cathy O’Reilly Collette, president of the Rhode Island Labor History Society, retired director of the Women’s Rights Department of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Washington, D.C. and former president of the World Women’s Committee of Public Services International, Geneva;
• Tom Cute, bus driver with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Division 618;
• Donald Deignan, president of the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial;
• Eve Stern, associate professor of history at URI, author of Ballots and Bibles; and
• Patrick T. Conley, retired professor of history at Providence College and president of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.
For further information, call Cathy Collette, 315-0535.
“…and agreement is sacred.”