Eugene V. Debs Hall is partnering with Subversive Theatre Collective and Buffalo DSA to inaugurate its annual May Day celebration on Sunday, May 1, 4 to 10 pm, at 483 Peckham Street. The *original* Labor Day, May Day is the international workers’ holiday celebrated just about everywhere on the planet except in the country where it originated: the United States of America.
“Eugene V. Debs Hall is helping restore a great American tradition in May Day,” says Chris Hawley of Eugene V. Debs Hall, the not-for-profit social hall and restored pre-Prohibition tavern on Peckham Street. “Buffalo’s first May Day demonstration took place in 1895, and Eugene V. Debs Hall now aims to become the local hub for the workers’ holiday.”
The event at Eugene V. Debs Hall will feature folk music by Yellow Jack from 4 to 7 pm, and a one-man performance of Howard Zinn’s Marx in Soho with actor John Kehoe starting at 7 pm.
Buffalo’s first May Day demonstration was actually held on Sunday, May 5, 1895, in Teutonia Park (present site of East High School). The event calling for an eight hour workday attracted 2,000 working people, who unanimously adopted the following resolution:
“Resolved, That in fully sympathy and fellowship with the millions of disinherited toilers, who, on May Day, throughout the world, march unitedly under the banner of International Socialism, we, workingmen and women of Buffalo, in mass meeting assembled, hereby pledge our means and our lives to the abolition of wage slavery, and to the substitution of the co-operative commonwealth for the present odious system of class robbery and despotism.”
In 1889, socialists of the Second International chose May Day as the date for International Workers’ Day to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago in 1886. After President Grover Cleveland violently suppressed the Pullman Strike of 1894, he established Labor Day as a federal holiday as a concession to the working class, simultaneously refusing to recognize May Day as a manifestation of radicalism in the American labor movement.
Eugene V. Debs Hall | 483 Peckham St, Buffalo, NY 14206