Militant Journalism

Chicago activists march to historic Haymarket Square to celebrate May Day

“When immigrant rights are under attack, what do we do? Fight Back!” echoed through Chicago’s West Loop streets on May Day. Various organizations gathered in Chicago’s Union Park to commemorate International Workers’ Day, including immigrant rights activists, faith leaders, abortion rights activists, union leaders and socialists. The community joined together to speak on the historic holiday that was inspired by the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago 136 years ago.

The march began at Union Park and went all the way to Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago before stopping at Haymarket Square where the Haymarket Massacre took place all those years ago. Marchers were reminded that our history started there, and our struggle for liberation continues.

Chicago's May Day rally concluded at Haymarket Square, site of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre. Liberation photo
Chicago’s May Day rally concluded at Haymarket Square, site of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre. Liberation photo

Attendees included the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Chicago for Abortion Rights, The Gay Liberation Network, Arise Chicago, Organized Communities Against Deportations, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and many more organizations, organizers, performers, community members and activists all demanding justice and rights for all.

Jupiter Brown of PSL Chicago told Liberation News, “It gave me confidence in the future to see different kinds of people from many different struggles come together as a united people’s movement. That’s the kind of movement we need so badly at a time like this.”

Brown noted that there have been attacks made against some of the most oppressed in our society since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, including immigration laws prohibiting migrants looking for refuge from crossing the southern U.S. border, state laws creating restrictions on abortion access, anti-trans bills making rounds in various state legislatures, and the overall war on the poor as inflation continues to increase due to war.

While the people are left to wonder, what can we do? Brown answered, “Back then [May Day, 1886], the people took to the streets for the eight-hour work day. Now we’re in the streets for victims of police murders like Anthony Alvarez, and for abortion rights, and so on. So we’re honoring the past not only by commemorating it, but by recognizing that we’re still living in the same historical movement. It’s still alive today, and that’s a serious responsibility for all of us. History is already happening right now, and all of us — the workers of the world today — are the ones who can change it.”

As May Day in Chicago proved with its multinational character, all sectors of the working class must come together and work alongside one another to fight for a better world. As one attendee’s sign read, “We are not outnumbered, just out organized!” It will take a unified front against capitalism, sexism, homophobia, racism, and all forms of oppression and exploitation to win our rights!

“The people united will never be defeated — El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” Hundreds of people chanted these words in Chicago on May 1, continuing to remind us that true solidarity with each other is our strength! 

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