THE HISTORY OF LABOR DAY More Than Just a Day Off
work comes at a perfect transitional
Work ethic is a fundamental value upon which our country is built. Every day, hardworking people go out in their communities and pour their hearts into what they do. It serves as an inspiration and drives our experiences as Americans. In recognition of this cultural core value, we celebrate Labor Day every September. But what you might not know is that Labor Day is a fairly new holiday. The History of Labor Day The first Labor Day was initially proposed in the late 1800s. The idea stemmed from a conversation held by unions in New York. Organized labor movements were becoming popular at the time, and the most significant dialogue was between the Central Labor Union of New York and its constituents. In September of 1882, multiple unions gathered together for a public parade in honor of the hard work of their members. Shortly after the event’s success, the labor union proposed a national labor holiday on the first Monday of September. The First Labor Day While the unions of New York continued to press for national recognition of a formalized labor holiday, other states started flexing their rights. In 1887, Oregon became the first state to make Labor Day an official holiday for its residents. Many other states quickly followed suit, and by the time the day was officially sanctioned as a national holiday in 1894, over 30 states had already adopted it. The Holiday’s Cultural Significance Since its inception as a holiday, Labor Day slowly started to take on extra meaning by symbolizing the end of summer. With school starting back up, fall sports kicking off, and the weather starting to cool off, this recognition of hard
period for American families. In fashion, the holiday is
acknowledged as the last day it’s acceptable to wear
white. Labor Day is often considered the unofficial end of grilling season as well. Of course, no holiday is exempt from consumerism; Labor Day sales are often second only to Black Friday. ‘I Have a Dream’ In his last speech, Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for the rights of African American garbage workers and their right to form a union. Dr. King had long been a supporter of workers’ rights; in 1963, he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to 250,000 supporters on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, King hoped to promote equality for all Americans. He described his vision for what freedom would look like when it was separated from ignorance, and when the speech was over, the civil rights movement changed forever. Not everyone has the opportunity to take the day off, so all of you who worked during the Labor Day holiday, we appreciate your sacrifice and dedication. Now it’s time to get back to what we do best as Americans: work hard.
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