Labor Day traditions in Detroit

Labor Day 1942

The Detroit News Feature “Holiday for Labor” that provides an excellent look at the traditions of labor and labor day parades in Detroit:

The Detroit Trade Assembly’s labor parades in 1865 formed a part of established parades and gatherings on national holidays, such as the Fourth of July or Washington’s birthday. The unions gathered at Campus Martius, each carrying a banner with a name and symbol of their occupation. Many wore all white with matched hats or aprons. The names of their unions sound a bit quaint today: blacksmiths, iron molders, ship carpenters, caulkers, joiners, coopers, cigar packers, tailors, broommakers, stovemounters, bricklayers, shoemakers, painters, bakers, tinsmiths, cabinet makers, and saddle, trunk and harness makers.

In all about 9,000 people were involved and ended up having parties “gypsy-style” in the Bella Hubbard Grove at Vinewood and 25th Street, with shuttle trips to Belle Isle and Grosse Ile and moonlight excursions to Lake Erie on the ship T.F. Park.

…At that time, almost everyone worked at least 10 hours a day and, for many, 12 hours. Huge strikes for eight-hour work days shook the nation, and independent labor political parties surfaced in community after community. Many of the strikes and parades drew thousands and ended in violence.

…In those years, Labor Day was seen as a welcome holiday for working men and women who labored before the concept of sick days, paid leave, weekends and paid vacations. A Detroit News editorial from Sept. 5, 1927 put it this way:

“In America no man need be apologetic because he works; he needs to explain if he does not. Accordingly, Labor Day is not the peculiar property of some group, but is the holiday which recognizes that this great country of ours with all its glorious achievements, ideals and purposes is a vindication of a whole people’s pride in labor.”

Read on more MUCH more!

This is part of a series of photos taken at the 1942 Labor Day Parade in Detroit by Arthur S. Siegel. Check them all out at the Library of Congress.

Lots more Labor Day on Michigan in Pictures.

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