Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunshine of Your Love—Murfin Home Confinement Music Festival 2020

Sunshine of Your Love by Cream.

And now in honor of a glorious sunny day hereabouts, something completely different, psychedelic, loud we present Sunshine of Your Love from 1967 by what some consider to be the first rock super group Cream.
The band was formed in 1965 by lead guitarist Eric Clapton formerly with the Yardbirds and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers; drummer Ginger Baker of The Graham Bond Organisation; and lead singer, bassist, and piano player Jack Bruce also of The Graham Bond and briefly with the Bluesbreakers as well.   Despite their close association Baker and Bruce detested each other and often fought to the edge of physical violence.  The laid-back Clapton got along well with both and facilitated mutual cooperation.

Cream--Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton in 1967.
The band was a stripped down trio and eschewed back-up studio musicians or singers and their first English record producers worried that they would produce enough “sound to fill up the record.”  Boy, were they wrong.
Their first album Fresh Cream included immediate British hits Rollin’ and Tumblin’, Spoonful, and I’m So Glad.
Despite the success because they were so different from other British Invasion groups they were little known in the U.S.  Disc jockey and rock producer Murray the K booked them for the bottom act of a six band bill to play nine dates at the RKO 58th Street Theatre in New York City. for one of his tour packages in 1967, effectively limiting them to one song per set.
Between appearances they recorded their second album Disraeli Gears at Atlantic Studios in New York during May 1967.  Despite a volume of material, the album only took three and a half days to complete and the band’s work visas expired the day of the last session.  Released on November 2, the album was a huge success this time on both sides of the puddle as well as Australia.  And in the wake of that chart-topping success Fresh Cream finally broke out in the U.S.
Sunshine of Your Love which became Cream’s signature anthem and their biggest single hit began as a bass phrase or riff developed by Jack Bruce after being inspired by Jimmy Hendrix.  Clapton and lyricist Pete Brown later contributed to the song while a distinctive tom-tom drum rhythm was developed by Baker and sound engineer Tom Dowd.  It was truly a collaborative effort pulled together in record time.

Bruce, Baker, and Clapton reunited for the first time in 25 years for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the single gold on September 26, 1968, signifying sales in excess of 1,000,000 copies.  In the US, it became one of the best-selling singles of 1968 and one of the best-selling at the time for the Atlantic group of labels.  In 2004, the song ranked # 65 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, in 2005, Q magazine placed it at #19 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever!, and in 2009, VH1 included it at #44 on its list of the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs. The song is on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.
As for Cream, they were inducted collectively and individually in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  But their shooting star burned out quickly mostly due to the clashes between Baker and Bruce.  After their 1968 album Wheels of Fire the group officially broke up but reunited in 1969 for a final studio album Goodbye after a short farewell tour.  The trio did not perform together again for 25 years when they somewhat reluctantly took the stage together for a performance at the Hall of Fame induction.

Cream lead guitarist Eric Clapton.
Individually Clapton was the most successful post-Cream with Blind Faith, another super group which included Baker, Steve Winwood of Traffic, and Ric Grech of Family.  Then came a stint as lead guitarist for Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, and fronting his own group Derek and the Dominos as well as a very successful solo career. 

Ginger Baker revolutionized rock drumming including being the first to have an extended drum solo in a number the way the Gene Krupa did in big band jazz.
Baker formed his own group Ginger Baker’s Air Force and surprisingly worked on several projects with Bruce despite their continued antagonism.  After less successful efforts he mostly dropped from sight for years to establish a recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria where he recorded African musicians and western artists, most significantly Paul McCarty and Wings for Band on the Run.  After a brief reunion tour with Cream, Baker was mostly inactive on the musical scene while he battled heroin addiction and an array of health issues.  He died on October 6, 2019 at the age of 80 at a hospital in Canterbury after being injured in a home fall and suffering a heart attack requiring surgery.

Bruce was a lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter for Cream and a restless seeker of new musical horizons while battling addiction.
Bruce was considered to be one of the most important and influential bass guitarists of all time. Rolling Stone magazine readers ranked him #eight on their list of 10 Greatest Bass Guitarist Of All Time,  In his post-Cream years he collaborated with several different artists and began to move from hard rock and blues to new forms including jazz and jazz fusion.  He released several critically acclaimed solo and collaboration albums that were not, on the whole, very commercially successful.  As noted he frequently worked with Baker, an association than neither could every really break.  His battles with alcohol and addiction were even more serious and destructive than Clapton’s and Baker’s.  After he finally beat addiction in 2003 he was diagnosed with liver cancer.  In 2003, he underwent a liver transplant, which was almost fatal, as his body initially rejected the new organ. He recovered, and in 2004 re-appeared to perform Sunshine of Your Love at a Rock Legends concert in Germany organized by the singer Mandoki.  He followed that with the Cream reunion concert in 2005.
Bruce died of liver disease on October 25, 2014, in Suffolk, England, at age 71. His funeral was held in London on November 5, 2014 and was attended by Clapton, Baker and noted musicians Phil Manzanera, Gary Brooker, Vernon Reid and Nitin Sawhney among others. Dozens assembled at the Golders Green Crematorium paying a last tribute singing together including Bruce’s best frenemy, Ginger Baker.

Race War in America Then and Now—Running the N*ggas Out of Tulsa

Looting and violence in Minneapolis was started by window smashing whites, not Anti-Fascists as they pretended to be but white supremacists organized to ignite the Boogaloo--race war..

Donald Trump likes some very fine people—Proud Boys, White Nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and Klansmen who are now more or less promoting open race war in America.  The Resident might settle for a civil war with racist overtone if it will save him from electoral defeat this November and likely criminal charges to follow.  Many of his followers like the tune just fine. Now comes news that the white instigators of violence, looting, and arson in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Nashville, Denver, Seattle, and other cities during angry but peaceful protests following George Floyd’s murder were organized white nationalists including the Proud Boys.  They even have a term for it—the Boogaloo.  Maybe it’s time to remind ourselves just exactly what race war looks like.
The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 was one of the ugliest and largest scale atrocities endured by a Black community in American history.  In a 16 hour long well-orchestrated rampage by white mobs supported by police and National Guardsmen the Greenwood District, the wealthiest Black community in the United States, was burned to the ground and erased.  Anywhere from 50 to 300 were killed—no one will ever know exactly—and over 800 were injured while two Black hospitals were burned to the ground.  6,000 residents were arrested, detained, and essentially deported from Oklahoma.  Yet within a year an official silence descended over the city.  No mention was ever made that it happened.  For decades it was a non-event except in the memory of those who survived.  This story first was posted here on this date in 2012 starts off with a last survivor.

Otis C. Clark, a last survivor of the Tulsa Race Riot lived to finally tell his story.
Otis G. Clark did not quite make it.  One of last known survivors and an eyewitness old enough to remember the two days of horror known as the Tulsa Race Riots died on May 21, 2012 in Seattle. He was reputed to be 109 years old.
That would have made him 18 years old when violence broke out in Oklahoma’s oil boom town on May 31, 1921.  A lifelong resident of the Greenwood neighborhood, the thriving center of a flourishing African-American community, the young man spent a night of terror dodging rampaging white mobs and then witnessed his family home being burned to the ground, along with almost all of the neighborhood.
Clark made it to the railroad yards with others and hopped a northbound freight to safety and a new life.  It was in interesting life, too.  After drifting around taking all sort of jobs, he ended in California where he became Joan Crawford’s butler.  Then he turned to preaching and was advertised as The World’s Oldest Evangelist.
Like many traumatized survivors, Clark seldom spoke of his ordeal until a resurgent Black community in Tulsa began demanding that the city face its dark past in the 1970’s.  Since then he often shared his story and his powerful eyewitness testimony helped bring the story to new light.
He told Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, “We had two theaters, two pool halls, hotels, and cafes, and stuff. We had an amazing little city.”
The business district of the thriving Black Greenwood neighborhood.  Its prosperity and the airs of the "uppity niggas" who lived there enraged the Southern and Texas whites who had also flooded into the oil boom city and was the real cause of the riot.
Greenwood was a bustling place.  In addition to the amenities mentioned by Clark there were two newspapers, several churches, a branch library, and a thriving business strip.  Residents of the neighborhood worked in Tulsa business and homes. 
In the early days when Oklahoma Territory had been carved out of the Indian Territory once promised in perpetuity to tribes relocated there from all over the United States, there had been the kind of easy going informal meritocracy of the frontier.  Black cowboys worked the ranches.  Black homesteaders busted the tough prairie soil.  Blacks were adopted and assimilated into the Cherokee and other tribes.  Black whores serviced white customers and visa-versa.  Blacks came as construction laborers and oil field roughnecks.
But in post-World War I American racial attitudes were polarizing and deteriorating rapidly.  The Federal government had long since abandoned Reconstruction in the states of the old Confederacy and had ceased to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment which promised equal justice before the law, and had abandoned enforcement of Civil Rights laws.  Jim Crow reigned across the South and was spreading to border and western states.
Racial tensions had heightened during and after World War I.  Labor shortages had empowered blacks to leave sharecropping and head to big cities for good paying industrial jobs.  The planters and local oligarchs resented the loss of their semi-chattel.  White workers in cities worried that their wages were being undercut.  Horrible race riots had broken out in Chicago in 1919 where white gangs rampaged through Black neighborhoods.
Blacks, on the other hand were feeling more empowered than they had in years.  Many placed high hopes that the record of Black troops in the war, and their service on the home front would earn them respect and greater freedom.  Many of their leaders had promised them that would be the case.
Returning veterans, toughened by war, were less likely to meekly submit to indignities.  Incidents flared across the country.  There was also the beginning of a movement against the lynch law that was spreading across the South and mostly targeting blacks.
About the same time D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation opened across the country to ecstatic reviews.  It glorified the defense of outraged southern womanhood from “arrogant and ignorant” Reconstruction Black politicians and their carpet bagger and scallywag allies by the heroically portrayed Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.  Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat with Southern roots screened the movie at the White House and endorsed it.  Wilson also systematically dismantled the last little Federal civil rights enforcement and re-introduced segregation in Federal facilities nation-wide.
A new version of the Klan, started as a sham by hustlers looking to peddle sheets, crosses, and memorabilia spread like wildfire across the nation.  It often took deepest roots outside of the old Confederacy.
By 1921 Tulsa, whose population had swelled to over 100,000 in the oil boom including many new White residents from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and southern Missouri, was a tinder box ready to explode.
It didn’t take much.

The man known as Dick Rowland and whose accidental brush with a downtown Tulsa female elevator operator was the excuse for the riot was known as James Jones when he attended Booker T. Washington High School and is the tall athlete with the team ball in this yearbook photo. 

On May 30 Dick Rowland, a Black shoe shiner got on a downtown elevator and in the process evidently stepped on the foot of the operator, a White woman named Sarah Page.  She let out a yelp of pain or a scream.  By afternoon rumors were racing through the city that Rowland had attacked her.  He was arrested and taken to jail.
The next day the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Tulsa Tribune not only reported on Rowland’s arrest, but positively claimed that he had attempted to rape Page.  Going further, an editorial titled To Lynch a Negro Tonight has widely been regarded as a signal for a lynch mob.

Supposedly liberal newspaper publisher and editor Richard Lloyd Jones was also a prominent leader of the Tulsa Unitarian church.  His editorial is considered by many historians to be the "signal" for a lynch mob to march on the courthouse.  Shown later in life, he remained for decades a respected Tulsa community leader and today the airport is named for him.

That might not be too unexpected of a newspaper that identified itself as Democratic in a town with a big Southern White population.  But the Tribune was owned and edited by Richard Lloyd Jones, a self-described liberal crusader.  Jones was the son of the legendary progressive leader of the Western Unitarian Conference and the Unity movement, Jenkin Lloyd Jones and was an experienced journalist and former editor of Collier’s and Cosmopolitan magazines and of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.   That same year Jones was instrumental in founding All Souls Unitarian Church in the city.  Despite all of this, he evidently quickly adopted the predominant racial attitudes of the White population.
Copies of that issue of the Tribune have mysteriously vanished from the paper’s own archives and from the files of local libraries.  They exact wording of the editorial has been lost.  But enough witnesses later remembered it so that there can be no doubt that it was, indeed, published.
If Jones, or members of his staff, wanted to signal a lynch mob, they succeeded.  A mob began to form outside the Tulsa County Courthouse at 7:30 and continued to grow in numbers and ferocity through the evening.  It demanded that Rowland be handed over for “summary justice.  Authorities, who had been criticized for handing over a white youth to a lynch mob eight month earlier, refused.
When word reached the Greenwood neighborhood a group of about 20 veterans armed themselves and proceeded to the courthouse to offer themselves as deputies to defend the jail.  Their offer was flatly refused.  The men returned to the neighborhood.
The angry mob tried to break into the National Guard Armory to obtain more arms, but was turned back by Guardsmen.  Reports of this filtered back to Greenwood in a garbled manner and believing that it was the Courthouse being stormed, a second, larger group of armed volunteers responded to the courthouse after 10 P.M.  They were again turned down.
As the group attempted to leave, scuffles broke out between them and the mob.  A shot was fired, by whom and at whom it is not known.  A full blown riot erupted.

Whoever labeled this picture now in the collection of the Tulsa Historical Society was not ashamed to boast about the intent of the riot.
The enraged White mob fanned out over the city seeking black targets.  Black Veterans held a line for a while along the railroad tracks.  Meanwhile a Black man was killed in a downtown movie theater, the first known fatality.  Any Blacks found on the streets were attacked.  Men in automobiles sprayed gunfire into Black businesses and homes.  Around midnight fires were set in the Greenwood business district which rapidly spread as the Fire Department refused to respond.  By morning most of the neighborhood lay in ashes.
But the worst was not yet over.  Leaders planned an all-out systematic military style assault on the community at dawn as dazed survivors of the fires roamed the streets.  The National Guard was mobilized, but rather than being sent to protect Greenwood, it was dispatched to screen upscale White neighborhoods from non-existing attacks.
The mob struck at dawn as planned, un-opposed by authority.  Black defenders were out gunned and quickly over-run.  Untouched areas were put to the torch.  Blacks moving were shot on sight.  A well known local surgeon Dr. A. C. Jackson tried to surrender, but was summarily executed on the spot.  The mobs spared neither women nor children when found.  There were reports of gang rapes.  And the mob was heavily armed.  At least one machine gun was used and there were reports of firebombs being hand dropped from a bi-plane. 
When out of town Guardsmen finally arrived at 9:30 in the morning, it was virtually all over.  The entire neighborhood was smoldering wreckage.  More than one thousand homes and businesses were destroyed, while credible estimates of riot deaths range from fifty to three hundred, virtually all Black, with hundreds injured.
The city was placed under Martial Law.  Many Greenwood residents, like Clark fled.  Others determined to stay, erecting shanties and living in tents for more than a year.

       The National Guard marches Blacks detained to a Bull Pen at a local sports stadium.
Official investigations resulted in not a single charge being brought against a White man for the violence.  An all-White Grand Jury officially blamed Blacks for the violence and determined that all actions by Whites were acts of “self-defense.”
Ironically Rowland, the supposed attacker of a White woman, was found not-guilty on all counts.  But the damage was done.
The events of 1921 were for years expunged from Tulsa’s official memory.  A conspiracy of silence and fear settled over the city that lasted for decades.
As historians began dredging up the sordid past in the 1980’s pressure began to mount for some kind of official acknowledgment of what had happened.  Finally in 1997 a special State Legislative Commission was formed to investigate the “incident” and report back with recommendations for action.  The Commission’s report, issued in 2001, put the blame squarely where it belonged and castigated local and state authorities at the time not only for ignoring the crisis, but for actively abetting attacks on the Black community.  The report called for reparations to be paid to survivors for losses, similar to the reparations granted survivors of a similar riot against the Black town of Rosewood, Florida, in 1923.  The legislature let the report languish without action.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of All Souls, recognizing the historic complicity of one of its leading founders, joined with the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, College Hill Presbyterian Church, and Metropolitan Community Church United to attempt to raise at least symbolic reparations.  The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) contributed $20,000.  Combined with local donations $28,000 was made available to the rapidly dwindling numbers of survivors.  In addition the UUA gave a $5000 grant to the churches operating together as the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry for continued anti-racism work.
Today All Souls is the largest congregation under one roof in the UUA with over 1,500 members.  It is noted for its social justice activism.  After espousing universal salvation and losing his mega church African American Pentecostal Bishop Carlton Pearson, his followers, and ministry were invited by Rev. Marlin Lavanhar and the congregation to bring their New Dimensions ministry to All Souls.  

The Tusa Race Riot memorial
In 2010 the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, named for the eminent Black historian, was dedicated in Tulsa near the center of long vanished Greenwood.  It features a dramatic memorial plaza and monument.
As for the Tulsa Tribune, it remained in the hands of four generations of the Jones family until it ceased publication in 1992.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Chicago’s Memorial Day Massacre—A Bloody Walk on a Prairie

The Memorial Day Massacre--American Tragedy, 1937, by Philip Evergood was based on a press photograph.

Eighty three years ago today it was hot and muggy in Chicago.  But the sun was shining brilliantly.  Due to a week old strike and the Memorial Day holiday, the giant steel mills nearby were not belching their customary heavy smoke.  Maybe those unaccustomed dazzling skies contributed to the air of a holiday outing as steel workers, their wives in their finest summer dresses, and their children converged by bus, trolley, auto, and foot on Sam’s Place, an erstwhile dime-a-dance hall, turned into a makeshift soup kitchen and strike headquarters on the Southeast Side less than a mile from the Republic Steel mill.
It was May 30, 1937.   The Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC), the pet project of John L. Lewis’s Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), had shocked the nation earlier in the year by bringing industry behemoth U.S. Steel under contract by infiltrating the company unions and having them vote to affiliate.  Faced with rising demand from an apparent recovery under way from the depths of the Depression on one hand and a popular, labor friendly administration in Washington on the other, the nation’s dominant steel company quietly surrendered.
Buoyed by the success, organizers turned their attention to Little Steel, the smaller, independent operators in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Chicago and other grimy industrial cities.  But the bosses of Youngstown Sheet and Steel, Republic, Bethlehem, Jones and Laughlin and others were a tougher bunch than the Wall Street stock manipulators that ran the huge rump of the old Steel Trust.  In fact they had nothing but contempt for the monopolists, their old business enemies, and their “weakling” attitude toward unionization.  Little Steel vowed to fight.  Tom Girdler, President of Republic, had said that he would go back to hoeing potatoes before he met the strikers’ demands.
The ferocity of the opposition to unionization was not just empty rhetoric either.  They had shown they meant business in blood on more than one occasion.  Famously in Youngstown, Ohio back in 1916 strikers accompanied by their wives and children marched from the slums to the gates of the Sheet and Tube mill to keep strike breakers from reporting to work.  Inside the gates a small army of private security forces responded by throwing dozens of tear gas bombs.  As the thick, poisonous haze hung over the workers obscuring their vision, guards unleashed volley after volley of rifle fire directly into their ranks.  The exact toll may never be known as workers were afraid to bring the wounded to medical attention.  At least three were killed, probably twice that many including women.  Twenty-seven injuries were confirmed, but strikers made oral reports of more than a hundred.  Enraged as the dead and wounded lay bleeding on the ground the strikers attacked the guards with stones and bricks and perhaps a pistol shot or two before retreating to town.
Little Steel strikers remembered Youngstown 21 years earlier.

In rioting over the next two days, workers burned much of the town’s business district only to be eventually crushed by Ohio National Guard troops.  The memory of those events was still fresh to workers more than twenty years later.  Especially when Little Steel bosses quietly let it be known that they had been stockpiling armories for years and were ready, even eager to repeat the carnage.
The USWOC called their national strike against Little Steel a week earlier.  In Chicago it had been marred by predictable violence, particularly on the part of the Chicago Police Department which had a long history of being used as armed strike breakers.  Beatings and arrests on the picket lines were occurring daily.  Some strike leaders had been kidnapped and held incommunicado.  For their part senior police officers were “subsidized” by corporate bosses who also bought political clout with the usual campaign contributions and bribes to local officials.  They also pledged to reimburse the city for police overtime during the strike.  In addition the still largely Irish Catholic force was kept inflamed by homilies preached in their parishes deriding USWOC as “Godless Communists.”
Despite this, moral among the strikers was high.  After only a week out, families had not yet felt the full pinch of lost incomes and strike soup kitchens kept them fed.   Organizers made a point of engaging workers’ wives from the beginning, including them in planning and giving them important support roles.  This was critical because many a strike had been lost in the past when families went hungry and the women urged their men to return to work.
As the large crowd gathered at Sam’s Place for the first mass meeting of the strike, vendors plied the crowd with ice cream, lemonade, and soft drinks.  Meals were passed out from the soup kitchen.  Other families munched on sandwiches wrapped in wax paper brought from home.  Many of the men passed friendly bottles as they settled into a round singing—mostly old Wobbly songs including Solidarity Forever and Alfred Hayes’s I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night.
Then came the rousing speeches.  Joe Webber, USWOC’s main organizer pointed his finger at the distant plant. The plan was to establish the first mass picket at the gates of the Republic Works.  Some workers carried homemade signs.  Organizers passed out hundreds of pre-printed placards stapled to lathing emblazoned with slogans.
With a sense of a gay holiday parade the strikers marched away from Sam’s Place behind two American flags singing as they went one block up the black top and then turned into the wide, flat prairie that separated them from the distant plant. 
Many of the surviving press photos--the police confiscated and destroyed as much film as they could lay their hands on--was damaged.  Still, they tell an unmistakable story.  Police continue to beat the helpless in the pile while launching more tear gas as firing at those still fleeing.
Historian/novelist Howard Fast later described the scene.
…snake-like, the line of pickets crossed the meadowland, singing at first...but then the song died as the sun-drenched plain turned ominous, as five hundred blue-coated policemen took up stations between the strikers and the plant. The strikers’ march slowed—but they came on. The police ranks closed and tightened… now it was to unarmed men and women and children that a police captain said, “You dirty sons of bitches, this is as far as you go!”
About two hundred and fifty yards from the plant, the police closed in on the strikers.  Billies and clubs were out already, prodding, striking, nightsticks edging into women’s breasts and groins. It was great fun for the cops who were also somewhat afraid, and they began to jerk guns out of holsters.
“Stand fast! Stand fast!” the line leaders cried. “We got our right! We got our legal rights to picket!”
The cops said, “You got no rights. You Red bastards, you got no rights.”
Even if a modern man’s a steelworker, with muscles as close to iron bands as human flesh gets, a pistol equalizes him with a weakling—and more than equalizes. Grenades began to sail now; tear gas settled like an ugly cloud. Children suddenly cried with panic, and the whole picket line gave back, men stumbling, cursing, gasping for breath. Here and there, a cop tore out his pistol and began to fire; it was pop, pop, pop at first, like toy favors at some horrible party, and then, as the strikers broke under the gunfire and began to run, the contagion of killing ran like fire through the police.
They began to shoot in volleys. It was wonderful sport, because these pickets were unarmed men and women and children; they could not strike back or fight back. The cops squealed with excitement. They ran after fleeing men and women, pressed revolvers to their backs, shot them down and then continued to shoot as the victims lay on their faces, retching blood. When a woman tripped and fell, four cops gathered above her, smashing in her flesh and bones and face. Oh, it was great sport, wonderful sport for gentle, pot-bellied police, who mostly had to confine their pleasures to beating up prostitutes and street peddlers—at a time when Chicago was world-infamous as a center of gangsterism, assorted crime and murder.
And so it went, on and on, until ten were dead or dying and over a hundred wounded. And the field a bloodstained field of battle. World War veterans there said that never in France had they seen anything as brutal as this.
Because workers were afraid to bring their injured to hospital, the exact casualty count may never be known for sure.  Ten men were confirmed dead.  All shot in the back. More than 50 gunshot wounds were reported. At least a hundred were badly injured, many more with scrapes, bruises, and turned ankles from police clubs and the panicked stampede to escape.
Many reporters and photographers were on the scene.  Police confiscated most of their film.  Newsreel cameras caught the action, but the companies were pressured not to show the footage.  The next day, led by the rabidly anti-union Chicago Tribune, most of the press dutifully recorded that the police had come under attack by fanatic Reds and had acted in self-defense. 
The rabidly anti-union Tribune spread the lie that Communist radicals had attacked police.  They threatened their own reporters who knew better.
Although covered in the labor press, the nation as a whole was kept in the dark about what had happened.  Even the workers supposed friend Franklin D. Roosevelt, pretty much accepted the official account and told reporters that “the majority of people are saying just one thing, ‘A plague on both your houses.’”
A Cook County Coroner’s Jury ruled the deaths that day as justifiable homicide.  Not only was no action taken against any of the police involved that day, but senior officers were commended and promoted.
The truth about what happened was very nearly suppressed, as so many atrocities committed against working people had been.  But a single newsreel cameraman saved the footage he shot from the roof of his car.  Some of the photographers on the scene retained their shots.  The stills and the moving pictures were placed on exhibit during the hearing on Republic Steel Strike held by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Education and Labor almost a year later.  A shocked nation saw for itself the senseless, unprovoked brutality of the police.
The Ladies Day massacre outside of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube plant later in July showed that Little Steel Bosses were still committed to smashing the strike with brutal force.  
As for the strike, it dragged on through the summer, as did regular violence on picket lines.  Then on July 19th it was Ladies Day on the picket line in front of the Republic Steel mill in Youngstown.  After company guards assaulted one of the women, they were pelted with rocks and bottles.  Retreating into the plant, in an eerie replay of the 1916 violence, guards let loose with tear gas and then opened fire, many firing down on the crowd from virtual snipers’ nests.  At least two were killed and dozens wounded.  Once again the National Guard was called in and the town became a virtual occupied territory.  The strike was crushed and workers went back.
But the Steel Workers turned to the new National Labor Relations Board for help.  They complained of unfair labor practices by the Little Steel companies.  The case took years to resolve.  But in 1942, with another war on and the need for industrial peace, the NLRB ordered the companies to recognize what had become the United Steel Workers Union.
The Memorial Day Massacre victims remembered.
Today a local union hall stands on the site of Sam’s Place.  The Republic Mill and other Little Steel plants are closed and pad-locked eyesores or have been torn down for largely undeveloped parkland. The City seeks desperately to find some way to redevelop what are now called simply Brown Fields.  At one time the site was suggested as one possible future home for Barack Obama’s Presidential Library but it was passed over.  USW members and the Illinois Labor History Society sometimes gather in remembrance of that terrible day.  And the last aging survivors, including some of the children present, fade away one by one, their stories untold. 
The Republic Steel Memorial Day Massacre Sculpture, created by former Republic Steel employee Edward Blazak, was dedicated in 1981. Originally located near the main gate at 116th Street and Burley Avenue, it was rededicated in 2008 and relocated to 11659 South Avenue O, at the southwest corner of the grounds of a Chicago Fire Department station. 
But this year, of course, the Coronavirus lockdown in Chicago will preclude any public communication.  Newscasts are filled with images of new police violence against protestors of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and other cities including Louisville, Kansas City, Denver, and Atlanta when they are not showing heedless Americans swamping beaches and bars as the Coronavirus shifts into a second wave.
This year again there will scant mention of the Memorial Day Massacre or coverage of commemorations.  Seems like Chicago is still eager to forget.