Monday, November 23, 2020

Obama Pardoned Turkeys and Republicans Hated It*

Pardoning a turkey for Thaksgiving in 2019.  Trump plans to emerge from his bunker this week to do it again.  Be sure that he will make the tradition about him and not the Tom.

Note—On Tuesday Donald Trump is scheduled to perform the annual Turkey Pardon in a brief White House ceremony.  He has not had a public event on his schedule in 16 days, made just four official appearances since November 3, and only spoken publicly three times. With exception of golf outing like the one he did on Saturday when he ditched a virtual G7 economic summit event, buzzing a MAGA rally on the mall with his motorcade, a visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, he has not left the White House.  Presumably he has decided that the tradition is popular enough with his base to be worth the effort to tear himself away from Tweeting and plotting to subvert democracy to make the effort.  It may also offer an opportunity to ad lib some remarks that will scandalize most of the nation—perhaps riffs on pardons for his cronies or himself.  If he does his base will adore him even more.  But as I discovered five years ago Republicans had a different view of turkey pardons when Barack Obama did it.  Our divide was deep and festering even then as is plain from this blast from the Blog past.

It’s mid-afternoon and I am still working on the blog post I had planned for this morning.  Look for it tomorrow.  But on a break from working on it I found a post on Facebook that intrigued me.  But it was from PoliticusUSA, a liberal web site I have learned not to trust. It often skews news items, misrepresents the contents in headlines, exaggerates, and passes on from sources even less reliable.  Having been embarrassingly burned a couple of times I have learned no matter how much their stuff might appeal to my natural political leanings, positions, and prejudices not to pass it on or share on social media.  My conservative friends—and I still have a few—might do well to review their own sources of information confirming their preconceptions.  But then if they did so sites from The Drudge Report and Breitbart not to mention Fox News might go out of business.  Those have been proved to have their pants on fire repeatedly by neutral fact checkers.

But in the case of the post that grabbed my attention, I decided to investigate if there was even a morsel of truth in the Politicus meme.  And lo and behold this time there was.  The story checked out.  And it was too good, and revealing not to pass on from the original source material—Public Policy Polling (PPP)

PPP is a North Carolina based polling organization ranked for its reliability, accuracy, and methodology as one of the best in the business.   The company only works for Democratic or Liberal campaigns which value it for telling them the truth about public opinion, not just parroting back to them what they want to hear.  Separate from the polls that they conduct for campaigns, the company of conducts “temperature measurement” polls which reveal the depth of ideological commitment of some voters—and often reveals remarkable gullibility.  Questions in these polls sometimes seem whimsical or ridiculous—but some voters take them with absolute seriousness.

They have polled questions like the approval rating of God, whether Republican voters believe President Obama would be eligible to enter heaven in the event of the Rapture, and whether hipsters should be subjected to a special tax for being annoying.  Although these polls are sensational enough to attract media attention and thus boost the PPP brand, they are conducted as straight forwardly as any campaign polling.  Unlike the notorious push polls favored by Republican operatives, the questions are not framed in inflammatory or prejudicial language intended to push the pollee to the desired response.  They are put forward matter-of-factly an in neutral language.  They use Interactive Voice Response (IVR), an automated questionnaire used by other polling firms including SurveyUSA and Rasmussen Reports.  Sample sizes are large enough to be meaningful and guard against anomalies.

In other words PPP polls tend to reflect what people are really thinking.  Which can sometimes be frightening.  It’s a Bizzaro world out there folks.

President Obama officially pardoning Cheese the Turkey in 2014.  Apparently Macaroni was camera shy.  Or was it a conspiracy to convince Americans he had only pardoned the traditional single bird?  Also remember the daughters Sasha and Malia were attacked by conservative operatives for their alleged violations of approved attitude at this occasion.  

The poll question that grabbed my attention asked “Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama’s executive action to pardon two turkeys rather than the customary one turkey at Thanksgiving?”

You might recall that last year to white gobblers named Macaroni and Cheese were saved in a holiday tradition dating back to John F. Kennedy spontaneously spared the turkey donated to the White House annually by the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board on Nov. 18, 1963, just four days before his assassination.  Other presidents informally followed suit, making for a nice heartwarming annual story.  Ronald Reagan was the first to call it what the press already was—a pardon, but it was George Herbert Walker Bush who first drew up and issued a formal pardon.  The birds are generally donated to a local petting zoo.  The First Families, if they are so inclined, dine on a traditional non-celebrity turkey feast.

Republicans apparently had no objections when Ronald Reagan first used the word Pardon  in sparing Charley in 1973.

You would think such a charming little tradition would be non-controversial.  You would, of course, be wrong.  Nothing Barack Obama does is non-controversial in these hyper partisan times.  If Fox News were to suddenly report that Obama respires oxygen a significant portion of their viewership would be dead of asphyxiation by morning.

Let PPP itself report the outcome of their question.

The examples of the GOP’s reflexive opposition to President Obama’s agenda are many but this may be the best one yet: by a 27 point margin Republicans say they disapprove of the President's executive order last year pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys (Macaroni and Cheese) instead of the customary one. Only 11% of Republicans support the President’s executive order last year to 38% who are opposed- that’s a pretty clear sign that if you put Obama's name on something GOP voters are going to oppose it pretty much no matter what. Overall there’s 35/22 support for the pardon of Macaroni and Cheese thanks to 59/11 support from Democrats and 28/21 from independents.

So there you have it.  Are you surprised?

PPP’s complete report on this round of polling also included questions on which Presidential Candidate would be the most likely to say something inappropriate at the table and ruin Thanksgiving Dinner (Donald Trump in a run-away), Thanksgiving menu choices (cranberry sauce or not turns into a generational divide) and Christmas issues—Americans are united in thinking the Starbucks coffee cup issue is ridiculous and in opposing too early playing of Christmas music.  Perhaps there is some dim hope for unity after all.  Check out PPP’s report a here.

*Just the sort of inflammatory headline to avoid like the plague.  This has been a Public Service Example.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Maiden Flight of the China Clipper and the Romance of the Air


She was without doubt the most famous—and romantic—single commercial aircraft ever to take wing, an icon of a shrinking world, and an honest-to-god movie star in her own right.  It all began on November 22, 1935 when the Pan American World Airways China Clipper lifted out of the water off of Alameda, California with a cargo of airmail bound for Manila in the Philippines. 

Heavily laden with cargo and fuel the mighty four-engine Martin M-130 struggled to gain altitude.  A scheduled loop around San Francisco for the benefit of an eager press and newsreel cameras had to be scrubbed and pilot Edwin Musick realized he could not get over San Francisco-Oakland Bridge, then still under construction, so he dramatically flew under the span.  It was a rocky start, but the plane was on her way.

It was epic, arduous and took seven days with lay-overs for fuel and to rest the crew at Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island, and Guam.  Setting down in Manila Bay with her cargo of 110,000 pieces of mail was cause for national celebration.  The Clipper was soon in regular scheduled service and also carrying passengers.

Pan Am President Juan Trippe charts out trans-oceanic routes for his flying boats.

The flight was a long time coming.  It was the vision of Pan Am founder and President Juan Trippe, a swashbuckling Wall Street investor turned aviation entrepreneur.  After earlier forays into the infant industry, Trippe founded the Aviation Corporation of the Americas which opened Latin American air mail service with a flight from Key West to Havana in 1927 with Musick at the controls.  He saw the future of international commercial aviation was in flying boats and put Pan Am’s resources into helping develop and put them in operation.  With planes like the Sikorsky S-42 which made trans-Atlantic service feasible.  With well-established routes to South America, Africa, and Europe, which made Pan Am the unofficial United States flag carrier, Trippe turned his gaze east. 

But Asia was far away and regular service would require a new, larger, and more powerful aircraft.  Trippe commissioned a new plane from the Glenn L. Martin Company of Baltimore, Maryland.   The builder designated the new planes as the M-30 Martin Ocean Transports, all-metal flying boats with streamlined aerodynamics and four powerful Pratt & Whitney radial engines.  The planes could accommodate 36 day or 18 overnight sleeper passengers and carried a flight crew of 7 plus cabin attendants for passenger service.  Three were built for Pan Am.

The China Clipper was first built and was test flown on December 30, 1934.  It was delivered to the Pan Am fleet on October 9, 1944.  Her sister ships were the Philippine Clipper and the Hawaii Clipper.

Meanwhile Trippe sent Musick, now Pan Am’s chief pilot on two flights in a Sikorsky S-42 to scout routes to the Philippines and from Manila to China.  Musick was then one of the most famous aviators in the world holding more than 10 records for long distance and flying boats.  He was also, by far, the most experienced pilot in the world having racked up nearly 2 million trans-oceanic air miles. 

Pan Am Chief Pilot Captain Edwin Musick, the most experienced aviator in the world, mapped out the Trans-Pacific route and flew the inaugural service of the China Clipper.

With the route laid out, Musick was the easy choice for senior captain on the inaugural flight of the China Clipper.  The rest of the crew were also respected veterans and included First Officer R.O.D. Sullivan and navigator Fred Noonan, later famed for doing the same duty on Amelia Earhart’s doomed round the world flight.

Weekly passenger flights across the Pacific began in October 1936 with Hawaii Clipper.  Connecting service from Manila to Hong Kong began in 1937 using S-42’s with the Clipper class Martins taking over that leg of the route a year later.  All three of the Martins flew these routes, but in the public’s eye they were all the China Clipper.  

A lobby card for Warner Bros. 1936 China Clipper starring Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Henry B. Walthall, Ross Alexander and, of course, The China Clipper herself.

Public fascination with the Clipper was so high that Warner Bros./First National Pictures rushed into production with a film China Clipper starring Pat O’Brian as a thinly disguised Trippe single minded and ruthless in his aim to establish trans-Pacific service no matter the cost.  The turgid melodrama is noted for an early non-gangster role for Humphrey Bogart as a safety conscious pilot at odds with O’Brian who eventually saves the day by flying the plane safely through a storm and into a mail contract.  The film used much newsreel and stock footage of the real China Clipper, including dramatic footage of passing under the Bay Bridge.

The China Clipper was featured in other films including 1937 comedy Fly-Away Baby and the 1939 adventure film Secret Service of the Air and referenced in several others.  Later Alec Baldwin would play Juan Trippe in the bio-flick of his rival Howard Hughes in The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It also figured in radio serials and popular pulp fiction.

The China Clipper and her sister ships as well as the famous pilot of that first flight all met disastrous ends, a reminder of how dangerous long distance air travel still was even in the most advanced aircraft.

On January 28, 1938 Musick and his crew of six died in the crash of the S-42 Samoan Clipper near Pago Pago, American Samoa, on a cargo and survey flight to Auckland, New Zealand.  A few months later in July the Hawaii Clipper disappeared between Guam and Manila with the loss of nine crew and six passengers.

The Philippine Clipper survived a Japanese air raid on Wake Island, an event depicted in the 1942 film Wake Island.  Pressed into wartime service for the Navy along with the China Clipper, she was lost in January 1943 between Ukiah and Boonville, California on a flight from Honolulu killing Pacific submarine force commander Admiral Robert H. English and 18 others. 

Pan Am promoted the return of its most famous and glamorous plane to post-war civilian service by putting her on a heavily promoted new route from Miami to Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo via South America.  With an inexperienced flying boat pilot at the controls, she crashed attempting to set down in Trinidad on the inaugural flight killing all on board.

That left the original China Clipper the sole survivor of the fleet.  Released from Navy service she was assigned to the inaugural flight of Pan Am service between Miami and Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo via Rio de Janeiro.  The plane was attempting to touch down at Port of Spain, Trinidad with an inexperienced pilot at the controls but under the supervision of a veteran pilot.  After aborting one approach the pilot misjudged his altitude and came in nose down hundreds of yards short of his designated landing zone.  The plane hull smashed on impact, took water, and quickly sank.  All 28 on board were killed.

Trippe would go on to lead Pan Am for decades introducing new innovations like the Boing 747, workhorse of international aviation.  He died in 1981 at the age of 81.  Mercifully he did not live to see the ignominious failure of what had been one of the world’s premier airlines a decade later.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Warp Corps to Host Compassion for Campers Distribution in Woodstock

Camping gear laid out at First United Methodist Church in McHenry for the first indoor distribution of the season on November 10.

Compassion for Campers, the program that provides supplies and gear for the McHenry County homeless who have no steady shelter, will hold its second indoor distribution for the winter at Warp Corps, 114 North Benton Street, Woodstock on Tuesday, November 24 from 3:30 to 5 pm.  

Warp Corps is dedicated to preventing suicide, substance use disorder, and homelessness particularly among at-risk youth.  Clients are asked to use the rear entrance on Jackson Street.  The door will be marked.

Pictured from left to right are members of the Warp Corps Team--Carlos Salgado, Julius Coronado, Jesse Soto, Warp Corps founder Rob Mutert, Heather Nelson,  and Natalie Hume.

Compassion for Campers is rising to the challenges presented by the latest Coronavirus mitigation orders while making sure the unhoused are served.

Clients will be Covid-19 screened out side with a temperature check and standard screening questions.  No one failing the test will be turned away but we will ask what they need and  supplies will be brought out to them.  All clients are required to be masked before entering the building and a mask will be provided to anyone who does not have one.  Clients will be admitted one at a time and no more will be allowed inside at any time than the location can safely accommodate with correct social distancing.  At the conclusion of the distribution all remaining supplies will be packed for storage and the host area will be cleaned and disinfected. 

Volunteers are needed to help with the distribution, especially younger folks in good health.  Contact Patrick Murfin at  or phone 815 814-5645 if you are available on Tuesday afternoons.  Distributions are scheduled two weeks apart and will rotate between sites in Woodstock, Crystal Lake, and McHenry.  Donations to continue this work can be made by sending a check made out to Tree of Life UU Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road, McHenry, IL 60050 with Compassion for Campers on the memo line to the church.

This distribution is sponsored The Faith Leaders of McHenry County, Warp Corps, Compassion for Campers, and Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church volunteers.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Transgender Day of Remembrance—A Candle for the Forgotten and Despised


Maybe because their names and faces get lost in the grim glut of crime reporting. Maybe because no one knew their story—or their secret.  Maybe it’s because the Guardians at the gate want to protect our tender sensibilities.  Maybe it’s because outside of “those people” no one cares.  Or maybe it’s because some see a kind of rough justice acted out on the streets and prefer to let it go on as they used to whistle-by-the-graveyard-in-the-dark at lynchings that kept Black folk in their place.

But someone must remember these Transgender people murdered every year simply because of who they are.  According to :

… a total of 369 cases of reported killings of Trans and gender-diverse people between 1st of October 2017 and 30th of September 2018, constituting an increase of 44 cases compared to last year’s update and 74 cases compared to 2016. The majority of the murders occurred in Brazil (167), Mexico (71), the United States (28), and Colombia (21), adding up to a total of 2982 reported cases in 72 countries worldwide between 1st of January 2008 and 30th of September 2018.

The actual numbers are likely higher.  There is no uniform reporting of crimes against trans and gender-diverse people ranging from those who have completed surgical reassignment, those who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth, those who embrace gender ambiguity, cross dressers, and drag performers who may be perceived as trans regardless of their orientation.  Many police reports identify victims only by their genitals and, especially in urban, crime plagued areas, most murders not involving children, multiple victims, or white, or prominent victims are not poorly covered by the press.

Levels of violence have risen in the United States but there is antidotal evidence that the general rise of intolerance and hate crimes fostered by Donald Trump, his Republican Party, and semi-hysterical right wing Evangelicals has disproportionally affected those who are identified as Transgender, especially Blacks, Latinos, and other minorities due to the double-whammy of the rise of White Nationalism.

Haters respond to none-to-subtle cues from the Administration and Republican state legislators.  For example The Trump administration tried  to define transgender identity “out of existence” and erase civil rights protections for LGBT people.

According to a horrifying report from New York Times the Trump administration tried to narrowly define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.

The Justice Department rescinded Obama era protections for Transgender individuals in prison despite irrefutable evidence that placing prisoners in general populations based solely on birth genitalia is an open invitation to assault, rape, and even murder—precisely the outcome recently former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had in mind.

Meanwhile those red state legislatures worked over-time on their own attacks including ludicrous Bathroom Bills, removing protections of trans students in schools, and blocking or stripping out existing inclusion in hate crime laws.

Black Trans women are over represented by percentage of the population among American victims.  Often tenuous and sometimes strained relations between activists in the Trans, Black, Gay, and feminist communities have sometimes stood in the way of common action and protest.

Perhaps ironically the International Transgender Day of Remembrance had its origin with the murder of Rita Hester, transgender African-American woman murdered in Allston, Massachusetts on November 28, 1998

Like so many memorial days do, an outpouring of community grief and anger led to a candlelight vigil held the following Friday, December 4 with 250 people in attendance. 

That vigil inspired the Remembering Our Dead web project and the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist helped organize the first public vigil in honor of all victims the next year in San Francisco in November of 1999.

Since then, the observation has spread across the world. By 2010, the occasion, now held annually on November 20, was observed in over 185 cities in more than 20 countries.  Many more are observed every year although the raging Coronavirus pandemic will limit public gatherings and memorial many of which will move on-line.

Many local, national, and international organizations now participate in and promote the Day of Remembrance.  I am proud to say that the Unitarian Universalist Association has played a leading role.  Many UUA congregations include some part of their services this time of the year to the memorial.  And this year the UUA and its signature Side With Love campaign will host a Transgender Day of Remembrance Chapel Service featuring Jaelynn Scott and Rev. Mykal Slack today, November 20 from 1 to 2 pm Central Standard Time (CST.)

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Joe Hill—I Never Died Said He

This oil portrait of Joe Hill hung in a succession of IWW General Headquarters offices.  When I worked late into the night as General Secretary Treasurer in the early 1970's I seemed to feel those intense eyes looking over me.  I wondered if I was living up to his legacy.

One hundred and five years ago on November 19, 1915 Utah authorities took Joe Hill from his prison cell, tied him to a straight back chair, blindfolded him and pinned a paper heart on his chest.  Then, in accordance with the local custom a firing squad of five men, four of them with live rounds in their rifles and one with a blank, perforated that paper valentine.

No one was better at setting words to popular or sacred songs for use in educating and rousing up workers than Joseph Hillstrom, a Swedish immigrant who drifted into the migratory labor life of the American West shortly after the dawn of the 20th Century. He was born as Joel Hägglund in Gävle, Sweden and immigrated to the U.S. under the name Hillstrom in 1902 learning English in New York and staying for a while in Cleveland, Ohio before drifting West. 

He joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1910 and was soon sending songs to IWW newspapers, including his most famous composition, The Preacher and the Slave, meant to be sung to the music of the Salvation Army bands who were frequently sent to street corners to drown out Wobbly soapbox orators.

As a footloose Wobbly Hill was likely to blow into any Western town where there was a strike or free speech fight.  He was a big part of any Little Red Songbook from 1913 on with such contributions as The Tramp, There is Power in the Union, Casey Jones the Union Scab, Scissor Bill, Mr. Block, and Where the River Frasier Flows.  He also began to compose original music as well, the most famous of which was The Rebel Girl which he dedicated to the teen-age organizer of Eastern mill girls, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. 

Hill also dispatched caustic, if crude, cartoons to Industrial Solidarity, the union’s newspaper, some of which ended up on silent agitatorsstickers meant to slapped up in mess halls, in lumber camps, in city flops and beaneries, and even on the factory floor.

Joe Hill in a photo taken in prison awaiting his execution.

Joe Hill was often the first fellow worker ready to take the stump at a free speech fight and the first arrested.  He was loved by his fellow working stiffs and feared as an enormous pain in the side of Western bosses.

Hill came to Salt Lake City where the local copper barons feared he might bring their miners out on strike.  The small IWW miner’s local there was a target of police harassment.  But Hill apparently had no specific plans and was just booming around looking for work and possibly a place to winter over with sympathetic local Swedes. 

After he showed up at a doctor’s office with a bullet wound, he was arrested and charged with the robbery and murder of a grocer, a former policeman named Morrison—and his son the night before.  He told police that a woman’s honor was involved and would say no more.  He was tried, convicted, and executed by firing squad in 1915.  He was just 36 years old.

Most scholars agree that it was physically impossible for him to have been involved in the robbery or to be shot by the grocer.  But questions always lingered about the bullet wound and that vague alibi. 

William M. Adler apparently solved many of the mysteries surrounding Joe Hills life and death.

Finally in 2013 writer William M. Adler did remarkable spade work and an exhaustive investigation of Hill time in Salt Lake in his book The Man Who Never Died, The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon.  Adler identified the likely real murder of grocery store owner and his son as Magnus Olson, a career criminal with a long record who was known to be in the area and who had beef with the former policeman.  The police had even picked him up as a possible suspect but he talked his way out of it and hid his identity under a welter of aliases.  Olson also matched the physical description of the assailant given by Morrison’s surviving son, which Hill did not.

Then Adler identified the mysterious woman—20 year old Hilda Ericson, the daughter of the family which ran the rooming house in suburban Murray where he was staying.  She had been engaged to Hill’s friend, fellow Swede, and Fellow Worker Otto Applequist who also boarded at the house.  Joe won the girl’s heart and she threw over Applequist for the Wobbly bard.  An upset Applequist shot Hill in a fit of jealousy, but immediately regretted it and was the man who took Joe to the doctor for treatment.  After taking Hill back to the rooming house he packed his bag and left at 2 am with the excuse he had gone looking for work.  Hill refused to name Applequist out of loyalty to his friend, and refused to identify the girl to spare her public humiliation—or perhaps to spare her and her family the risk of persecution from the police for providing an alibi.   And despite all that it cost him, Hill refused to say more.

The judgment of history is that Joe Hill was framed.  He became a martyr to labor in no small measure because of his Last Words, a letter to IWW General Secretary Treasurer William D. “Big Bill” Haywood,

Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize... Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.

That has been shortened as a union motto to “Don’t Mourn Organize.

He also composed a memorable Last Will:

My will is easy to decide,
For there is nothing to divide.
My kin don’t need to fuss and moan,
“Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.”

My body? Oh, if I could choose
I would to ashes it reduce,
And let the merry breezes blow,
My dust to where some flowers grow.

Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my Last and final Will.
Good Luck to All of you,
Joe Hill.


In keeping with Hill’s wishes his body was shipped by rail to Chicago, home of the IWW’s General Headquarters where it was cremated.   His funeral was attended by thousands at the Westside Auditorium on Thanksgiving Day where Haywood, spoke along with tributes in several other languages and performances of Hill’s songs.  The funeral possession was reportedly one of the largest ever held in Chicago up to that time.  It took Hill’s remains to Waldheim Cemetery—now known as Forest Home Cemetery—where the bulk of his ashes were scattered around the Haymarket Martyrs Memorial.

One of the packets of Joe Hill's ashes distributed around the world and to every state but Utah.

The rest of his ashes were divided into small manila envelopes which were sent to IWW locals or delegates in all 48 states except Utah as well as to Sweden, and other countries. 

Over the years some packets of Hill’s ashes have surfaced—some that were seized by the Federal Government in its 1917 nationwide raids on IWW halls and offices were returned to the union by the National Archives in 1988.  The packets have been disposed of in various ways, some ceremonial, some not.  British labor singer Billy Bragg reportedly ate some.  West coast Wobbly singer Mark Ross has some inside his guitar.  Former Industrial Worker editor Carlos Cortez scattered ashes at the dedication of a monument to the six striking coal miners killed by Colorado State Police machine gun fire in the 1927 Columbine Mine Massacre.   An urn kept at General Headquarters in Chicago contains his last known ashes. .  

Hill entered American culture as a folk hero along with the likes of John Henry and Casey Jones largely thanks to the memorable 1936 song I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night with lyrics by Alfred Hayes and music by Earl Robinson.  As performed and recorded by the great African-American actor, activist, and singer Paul Robeson it became an anthem of the labor movement and eventually more famous than Hill’s own songs.  More than three decades later Joan Baez introduced it to a new generation of radicals and activists when she sang it at the Woodstock Festival in 1989. 

Phil Ochs, one of the heirs of Hill’s protest bard legacy also wrote and recorded his own Ballad of Joe Hill complete with a detailed account of his fate. 

The 1980 Swedish postage stamp commemorating Joe Hill.

Hill is also a revered figure in his native Sweden where he has been commemorated on postage stamps and where his childhood home is reverently preserved as a museum.  In 1971 director Bo Widerberg came to the States to film his Joe Hill.  Despite his reputation as the lyrical auteur of the internationally acclaimed Elvira Madigan, Widerberg botched the job by sacrificing much of the gritty class war content for a sappy and unbelievable romance.  The film sank like a stone when released in English in the U.S. 

IWW artist Carlos Cortez produced several large format lino-cut hand printed posters of Joe Hill.

But even a bad movie could not erode Hill’s fame.  He has appeared in fiction, poetry, and plays and has inspired several works of art, perhaps most notably in linocut posters hand produced by Wobbly artist, poet, and editor Carlos Cortez.

For the centennial of Hill’s execution events were held around the country and the world all year, including a series of Joe Hill Road Show tours featuring contemporary IWW musicians and other performers of people’s music.

Truly, Joe Hill is the Man Who Never Died.