Professor’s Plea: Living Wage for 1912 Textile Strikers

By Dana Rubin March 04, 2020

Third in a series commemorating Women’s History Month by spotlighting a significant speech or testimony delivered by a woman in the U.S. on this date.

The “Bread and Roses Strike” had been in progress for two months in the harsh winter of 1912 when Vida Scudder arrived at Lawrence, Mass., invited by a progressive women’s group.

More than 20,000 striking textile workers had marched through the snowy streets, capturing the attention of the nation with their songs and protests against a cutback in hours and wages. Scudder was a popular professor at Wellesley College and a leader in the settlement house movement. In her March 4, 1912 speech at the Colonial Theatre — modeled on the Sermon on the Mount — she argued that the mills should be run for the people who work there as well as the shareholders.

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