A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 17, 2012
“Don’t mourn—organize” (labor slogan)

"Don’t mourn—organize” is a union slogan often said after the death of a union leader. Union worker and songwriter Joe Hill (1879-1915) was sentenced to death for a crime in Utah. (New evidence possibly exonerates him.) Hill sent his last telegrams to Bill Haywood (1869-1928), the leader of the Industrial Workers of the World:

“Good-by, Bill. I will die like a true-blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning—organize.”

“Don’t mourn—organize” was said by Bill Haywood at Joe Hill’s funeral, paraphrasing Hill’s telegram.


Wikipedia: Don’t mourn, organize!
“Don’t mourn, organize!” is an expression often incorrectly supposed to be the last words spoken by activist and songwriter Joe Hill, who was charged with murder and executed in Utah in 1915. In truth, the expression is part of a telegram sent to Bill Haywood, in which Joe wrote, “Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!” It wasn’t Joe’s last telegram; he sent another in which he implored Haywood, “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.”

Since the death of Hill, the phrase has been used in association with other labour leaders’ deaths. It is particularly popular within the Industrial Workers of the World. The phrase has also been used in conjunction with a severe defeat and not the death of an individual.

The phrase is popular enough in its association with Joe Hill and the labour movement that it was the title of a music compilation made in 1990 and released by Smithsonian Folkways. The full title is Don’t Mourn — Organize!: Songs of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill.

Wikipedia: Joe Hill
Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in Gävle, Sweden, and also known as Joseph Hillström (October 7, 1879 – November 19, 1915) was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as the “Wobblies"). A native Swedish speaker, he learned English during the early 1900s, while working various jobs from New York to San Francisco. Hill, as an immigrant worker frequently facing unemployment and underemployment, became a popular song writer and cartoonist for the radical union. His most famous songs include “The Preacher and the Slave”, “The Tramp”, “There is Power in a Union”, “The Rebel Girl”, and “Casey Jones—the Union Scab”, which generally express the harsh but combative life of itinerant workers, and the perceived necessity of organizing to improve conditions for working people.
(...)
Just prior to his execution, Hill had written to Bill Haywood, an IWW leader, saying, “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.”

Chronicling America
19 November 1915, Ogden (UT) Standard, pg. 10, col. 3:
Another farewell message was also sent to Haywood at the same address. It said:

“Good-by, Bill. I will die like a true-blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning—organize.
“JOE HILL.”

Hathi Trust Digital Library
December 1915, International Socialist Review, ‘Joe Hill,” pg. 330:
On the night before the dawn, when he faced the muzzles of death he sent these two telegrams to Haywood:

“Good-bye, Bill. I will die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.

Hathi Trust Digital Libary
January 1916, International Socialist Review, “Joe Hill’s Funeral” by Ralph Chaplin, pg. 401:
William D. Haywood introduced Judge Hilton with a short but powerful appeal, the keynote of which was, “Don’t mourn—organize.”
Pg. 402:
Thousands in the procession wore I. W. W. pennants on their sleeves or red ribbons worded, “Joe Hill, murdered by the authorities of the state of Utah, November the 19th, 1915,” or, “Joe Hill. I. W. W. marytr to a great cause,” “Don’t mourn—organize. Joe Hill,” and many others.

Hathi Trust Digital Library
December 1916, The Journal of Electrical Workers and Operators, pg. 316:
Agree with Joe Hill—“Don’t mourn—organize.”
Yours for solidarity,
C. C. K.
Press Secretary.

Hathi Trust Digital Library
January 1920, The One Big Union Monthly, “Some I. W. W. Anniversaries,” pg. 59, col. 2:
Joe Hill’s last message was: “Don’t mourn. Organize!”

OCLC WorldCat record
Don’t mourn, organize : SDS guide to community organizing.
Author: Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)
Publisher: San Francisco, Calif. ; Chicago : Movement Press, 1968.
Series: Sixties. 
Edition/Format:  eBook : Document : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Don’t mourn, organize!
Publisher: New York : United Struggle Press, 1977-1979.
Edition/Format:  Journal, magazine : Periodical : Microfilm : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Don’t mourn-- organize! : songs of labor songwriter Joe Hill.
Author: Joe Hill; Billy Bragg; Utah Phillips; Mark Levy; Harry K McClintock; All authors
Publisher: Washington, DC : Smithsonian/Folkways ; Cambridge, Mass. : Nationally distributed by Rounder, 1990.
Edition/Format: Music CD : CD audio : Songs : English
Summary:
Songs, poems, and speeches by or about labor organizer Joe Hill.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (0) Comments • Monday, September 17, 2012 • Permalink