Bay View Tragedy Commemoration is May 3

May 1, 2015

The 129th Anniversary of the Bay View Tragedy is Sunday, May 3, at 3pm, at the site of the State Historical Bay View Rolling Mill  Marker on the corner of South Superior Street and East Russell Avenue.

The event commemorates the day when seven people were killed by the state militia  on May 5, 1886 during a protest march in Bay View. Protestors wanted an eight-hour work day at a time when many worked 10 to 14 hours daily. The incident occurred at a time in U.S. history when there was a national movement of workers seeking shorter workdays and demonstrating their demand through strikes, rallies, and marches.

The commemoration ceremony has been held annually since 1986 and has become a springtime tradition, attracting more than 300 persons in recent years.

This year the event will include brief speeches, a theatrical reenactment, and songs of labor and working people. Jennifer Epps-Addison of Wisconsin Jobs Now, an organization that advocates for low-income workers, will speak of the importance of the historical event and its relevance to today’s challenges facing working people.

The Milwaukee Public Theatre and the Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theatre will stage a dramatic reenactment of the 1886 tragedy, with actors and larger-than-life-sized puppets.

The hour-long event will also include a tribute to Milwaukee folksinger Larry Penn, known for his songs of workers, railroaders and civil rights activists. Penn, who was a regular performer at the annual event, died in fall of 2014. He was a longtime resident of the Tippecanoe neighborhood. The tribute will be led by Milwaukee folksinger Craig Siemsen. Milwaukee Metropolitan Voices will also sing.

The Wisconsin Labor History Society is  the lead sponsor of the event, which is planned by a committee that includes representatives of the Bay View Historical Society, residents of the Bay View area, union leaders, and others. The event is free and open to the public.

More info: Ken Germanson, 414-687-6954.

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