Labor Day in the USA.

My state’s governor Andrew Cuomo emails me every (non-holiday) weekday with a COVID-19 update. In Friday’s missive he mentioned that Labor Day, celebrated today in the United States, was first celebrated in New York City.

As is the governor’s practice, he included an “image of the day.” Here it is:

The bottom caption reads: NEW YORK CITY—GRAND DEMONSTRATION OF WORKINGMEN, SEPTEMBER 5th—THE PROCESSION PASSING THE VIEWING-STAND AT UNION SQUARE—From a Sketch by a Staff Artist—See Page 55 The side caption reads: September 16, 1882] FRANK LESLIE'S ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPER.In case it’s hard to discern in this format, the bottom caption reads:

NEW YORK CITY—GRAND DEMONSTRATION OF WORKINGMEN, SEPTEMBER 5th—THE PROCESSION PASSING THE VIEWING-STAND AT UNION SQUARE—From a Sketch by a Staff Artist—See Page 55

The left side caption reads:

September 16, 1882]  FRANK LESLIE’S ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPER.

Something that really resonates with me about this image is my own presence at Union Square countless times, including for  protests and political gatherings. (And the truly amazing greenmarket. And chemo and radiation and too many doctors appointments to keep track. And monitoring the Sciuridae menace.)

Long ago, there was a pavilion built specifically for protesting at Union Square; once upon a time, the city was actually required to construct spaces for public meetings and protest. (More Union Square history and some great historical pics at this link, including the immediate aftermath of an anarchist’s failed mass bombing of a socialists meeting in 1908, and a barbers strike in 1913.)

It’s both exhilarating and humbling to know I’ve walked the same paths – and for many of the same reasons – as so many before me.

Of course, it’s also very, very disheartening. Which brings me to the second thing that really strikes me about that image: the messaging on the signs.

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