May History Hits: May Day

May Day, also known as International Worker’s Day, is celebrated on May 1 every year. This holiday has a long and storied history, dating back over a century, and it continues to be an important day for workers and labor activists around the world.

May Day has its roots in the labor movement of the late 19th century, when workers in the United States and Europe began fighting for better working conditions, higher wages, and the right to organize. In the U.S., May 1st was chosen as the date for a nationwide strike in support of the eight-hour workday. This strike, which took place in 1886, was marred by violence, with police and striking workers clashing in the streets of several major cities. In the aftermath, several labor leaders were arrested and executed, and May 1 became a symbol of workers’ struggle for justice.

Today, May Day is celebrated in many different ways around the world. In some countries, it is a national holiday, with workers taking the day off to participate in rallies and other activities. In other countries, it is a day of protest and agitation.

In recent years, May Day has taken on new significance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the deep inequalities of the global economic system. In many parts of the world, workers on the front lines of the pandemic, including healthcare workers, grocery store employees, and delivery drivers, have faced tremendous risks and challenges, often with little support or recognition from their employers or governments. On May Day 2021, workers around the world used the occasion to demand greater protections and support for those on the front line—often workers struggling to make ends meet.

Read more about May Day throughout history here:

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