Happy Labor Day, 2016 !

Happy Labor Day

The management team of Face Activities wishes our members and their friends and families a happy, safe and enjoyable Labor Day. As you enjoy this wonderful holiday, please contemplate its origins, and significance in our world, both past and present.

Labor Day has become a staple for the American Public. It’s a holiday devised to honor the American worker, and sprang forth from the labor movement of the 19th century. The holiday started small, in  a few cities, in 1885 and 1886, and eventually grew to become one of the major secular American holidays, both an homage to the worker, and emblematic of a key yearly passage—-the practical end of the summer season.

For many today, Labor Day is simply a reason to enjoy a long weekend, and a cookout with family and friends, (this labor day, there’s added drama, since a tropical storm threatens the eastern seaboard.) But the holiday’s historical and social significance is much greater. Whether or not you support organized labor unions and their policies, it’s hard to argue that the American worker hasn’t played a vital role in industry, commerce, and innovation, making the U.S. a long-standing economic leader throughout the world.

The first state bill recognizing labor day was proposed by New York, but the first to become law was passed in Oregon in 1887, followed within the year by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. By 1894, 23 additional states had accepted the holiday, and Congress soon passed legislation to make it a national holiday. From that moment onward, Labor Day would fall, every year, on the first Monday in September.

While Labor Day’s fortunes rose, history wasn’t so kind to that other great worker’s holiday, celebrated on the first of May, which has failed to gain acceptance throughout the United States. An ancient traditional spring-time festival, May Day has also come to represent the worker, especially in the form of “International Workers Day.” It was started by socialists and communists to remember Chicago’s “Haymarket affair,” a terrible tragedy.

On May 4, 1886, at a Chicago worker’s demonstration in support of the eight hour work day, seven people were killed following a bombing and subsequent gunfire by police–several anarchists were convicted. So the holiday marks an important historical event in the labor movement, but probably because of its communist-inspired roots, the May Day / International Worker’s Day holiday never gained much ground in the U.S. mainstream. However, it was widely celebrated in the Soviet Union.

To be sure, the labor movement, which spawned labor day, was a major player in American history. As large corporations and industrial titans, like steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, re-worked the nations landscape, economy, and role in the global marketplace, they were often indifferent to the plight of their workers, when it suited them. The labor movement, over time, and after much struggle, ensured that working conditions and benefits kept pace with the increasingly important role of the American worker in these vital industries. Modern workers in the United States enjoy many benefits from this process that aren’t available in many other countries, including the eight hour work day, minimum wage, OSHA health and safety regulations, and child labor laws.

That’s not to say that many other countries haven’t implemented positive reforms. Many today feel that the European Union is surpassing the U.S. with regard to workers rights. And as an interesting historical note, the Shah of Iran implemented a policy requiring corporations to share 20% of their profits with their workers. It will be interesting to see if such a policy ever gains popularity in the United States.

So enjoy your barbecue, movie, and day off, absolutely! And please remember how Labor day, that fun holiday so many enjoy today, is steeped in a 19th century tradition of struggle, progress, and advocacy for the American Worker, and honors the achievements, tenacity and characters of the ordinary, hard-working people you meet, every where you go.

Learn more about Labor day (U.S. Government)



Photo: By Sgt. Jessica Barnett  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Trump speaks to an African-American audience for the first time

Donald Trump addresses African-American Church

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to a predominantly African-American audience at at the Great Faith Ministries church on Saturday, in Detroit, Michigan. He delivered a positive message about unity and fixing problems in the African-American community. He proudly reminded the audience that the Republican Party was the Party of Abraham Lincoln, and assured them that he understands  that African-Americans have faced many injustices over the years.

He’s receiving mixed-reviews, both criticism and praise, and there were protests outside the church before his arrival. But the big question is, what on earth took him so long? He’s been on the campaign trail now for over a year, and this is his first major African-American venue, despite the importance of this group in the American electorate, despite the realities of electoral politics in the United States of America.

To be clear, Trump said and did all the right things. He sat in the front, said he was there to listen and learn, held up a baby for all to see (Trump needs all the help he can get with the baby loving demographic, after recent crass comments) and accepted the generous gift of a prayer shawl. Though this address is certainly a positive step forward, it’s lateness within the campaign calendar does raise questions, and should be a cause for concern. How serious is Donald Trump about courting black voters if he waits until this late in the process, with the election in November and early voting happening early this very month (September) to speak to a largely African-American audience?

It suggests that he values his main constituency, disgruntled older white men who lean to the political right, far more than African-American voters, in the long run. Trump is playing catch-up with African-American voters, and though time will tell, and elections are full of surprises, many feel it’s simply too little too late.

Learn about Trump’s first speech to a largely African-American venue (CNN)



Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Rock ‘N Roll Revue, a film by Joseph Kohn, 1955 (a concert film)

rock-n-roll-review, 1955

Rock ‘N Roll Revue, 1955

A film by Joseph Kohn

Old-time rock ‘n roll music, and comedy acts, filmed one evening at the Apollo Theater, in New York City. Top performers of the day make the music that thrilled the very first rock’n roll generation, in this delightful, short concert film. Features many popular artists, including Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, the Clovers, Dinah Washington, Martha Davis, and Mantan Moreland, and more.

(Browse our Movie Archive)

Donald Trump meets Mexican President Peña Nieto

Donald Trump meets Mexican President Peña Nieto

Donald Trump has an unconventional campaigning style, to say the least, but his visit to Mexico on Wednesday, to meet with Mexican President Peña Nieto, has broken the mold. The GOP nominee went on the trip even though U.S. Diplomats in Mexico advised against the visit on logistical and security grounds. And he didn’t bring a significant Press core to follow him about.

Trump’s visit, more specifically his performance on that visit, was characterized by the Clinton camp as a sign of weakness. To some pundits it appears that the Trump campaign is trying to bolster his foreign policy credentials, and improve his standing among Hispanic voters, generally quite unhappy with Trump’s past derogatory statements about Mexican immigrants. Meeting with and standing side by side with a prominent Latin American leader are seen as means to this end.

Typically Presidential candidates who seek to bolster their foreign policy images, including President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, visit friendly nations closely allied with U.S. interests. So on that count, Trump’s visit to Mexico is bold, risky, and perhaps, foolish. The two leaders met in private and then spoke to a small gathering of the press. Topics under discussion included trade, specifically the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA,) Mexican immigration to the U.S., and of course, the wall.

A mainstay of Trump’s campaign has been not only his proclamation that the U.S. will build a wall separating Mexico and the United States, but also that that Mexico will pay for that wall—-a radical proposal. And the two leaders had starkly contrasting recollections on this point. According to the President of Mexico, he clearly told Mr. Trump  in the meeting that Mexico would not pay for a wall. However, the GOP nominee maintained that he simply didn’t bring up the topic for discussion. Those are two distinctly different versions of the same event. Who is correct and who is mistaken, or perhaps, lying?

Both Donald Trump and President Peña Nieto spoke decisively on Trade. They disagreed. Peña Nieto stated that NAFTA was a very positive treaty that benefited both the U.S. and Mexico, and pointed out that 6 million U.S. jobs depend on the exports to Mexico. Trump, however, said that the treaty was not fair to the United States, and that Mexico benefitted far more.

Clearly Donald Trump’s campaign trip to Mexico, an odd piece of political theater, was not a clear victory for either the Republicans or the Democrats. Will he win respect among undecided hispanic voters, and bolster his poor poll numbers among this important demographic group? Or has he demonstrated weakness, by failing to clearly assert his cornerstone policy (wall building) where it counts most? Time will tell, and the American voter will decide.

Learn more about Donald Trump’s trip to Mexico (CNN)



Photo: Max Goldberg / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)


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