May Day Celebration Planned for Utica on May First

by Love and Rage Team/Upcoming Events

May Day is celebrated around the world as International Workers’ Day – a day of labor solidarity, protest and celebration. In 2012 people in Utica started to celebrate May Day again to bring awareness to worker and immigrant rights.

This year, community groups are hosting a May Day celebration at the DeSales Center at 309 Genesee Street in Utica on May 1 from 1:00pm – 5:00pm that will include music, public speaking, a May Day and labor history lecture, food, networking and a screening of Naomi Klein’s film The Take about the worker occupation movement in Argentina that began in 2001. Musical acts will feature the Mayday Messengers, a band that includes former members of the Copper Vein Clones, Ryan Connarton and Rocco Branck, and former member of Jomama and the Funkdaddys, Dan Webster. Mayday Messengers play all original music blending funk and afro-beat. Darryl Rahn will also perform. He is a Utica native and solo Americana act. He has shared the stage with national acts such as Guster, Wild Child, Honeysuckle, and many more. There will also be a potluck so people are welcome to bring food and a maypole will be set up for people to use. A short presentation on the history of May Day and labor struggles will be given too. 

The theme of this year’s May Day will be a celebration of our victories such as recent steps forward with the Fight for 15 movement and paid family leave in New York. This will also be a celebration of various social movements currently on the rise for worker, immigrant and social and economic justice.

The origins of the holiday are actually from the Gaelic celebration of Bealtaine in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man to mark the coming of spring. The modern roots of May Day are in Chicago when a general strike was called to enact the eight hour workday in 1886. Hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike but the peaceful demonstration deteriorated into violence when the police started a riot in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. An unknown number of workers and police were killed. The authorities rounded up strike leaders who were later executed, not for any crime they committed, but because they were union organizers and anarchists. May Day is celebrated the world over and has long been a day of protest in the US. In 2006, the largest strike in US history occurred when undocumented immigrants, workers, and many others went on strike for immigration reform.

The Working Families Party, CNY Citizens in Action, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Mohawk Valley Freedom School. The event is free and open to the public.

If anyone wants more information or if any bands, musicians, rappers or poets are interested in performing, please contact John Furman at or 315-725-0974.

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