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I Need to Make a Dollar: Protest Songs of Illinois Workers, 1865 to 1970

A Road Scholar Program by Bucky Halker

No sooner had the gun barrels cooled from the Civil War than the nation’s burgeoning industrial workforce began to seek redress for a growing list of economic and political grievances. Illinois played a central role in that development as its coal mines, railroads, and iron mills paced the nation’s economy in the post-bellum years and throughout the Gilded Age. Workers from throughout the state marched to the forefront in the reborn labor movement for economic reform and justice in America. As they did so, labor poetry and song poured from their ranks.

Thousands of songs emanated from coal miners, textile operatives, iron molders, carpenters, bricklayers, and printers, calling for better wages, labor reform, shorter hours, improved work conditions, and greater democracy in the workplace, while celebrating the contributions of workers and labor to the state and nation. That labor’s anthem, &quotSolidarity Forever,&quot was composed in Illinois should hardly be a surprise. Until the deindustrialization of the 1970s, the state’s workers continued to sing for social change. Musician-historian Bucky Halker offers a musical presentation that features labor songs and poems from the end of the Civil War to 1970 and includes commentary on the history of industry and labor with each song.

&quotI Need to Make a Dollar&quot typically runs 60-70 minutes, with additional time for a questions and discussion.

This event is Free and Open to the public.

For more information, please contact Kim Zumwalt,

Learn more about Bucky Halker.