Haymarket Martyrs' Monument and Radical Row, Forest Park Illinois
The Haymarket riot, or bombing, or affair in Chicago in 1886 is the reason why May Day has been celebrated by workers movements all over the world since. It was a major turning point in the history of the labor movement in Chicago and was at the beginning of the push for an 8 hour work day. I won't try to describe the events and the ensuing trial and hangings around the Haymarket affair in detail here. It's too much to go into. Briefly; a rally was organized in response to the police killings of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Factory. A bomb was thrown into the rally by an unknown person which killed several people and caused a melee. 7 police officers where among the dead when it was all over. The organizers and speakers at the event were then tried for the murders of those police. Four were convicted and hung even though they had no involvement with the bombing and no direct involvement with the killing of the police. These four became the Haymarket Martyrs for which the above monument was erected. The actual location of the Haymarket was where Randolph Street is now between Desplains and Halsted in the city of Chicago. There was a memorial at that site until recently. It has been moved to Union Park on the Westside to make way for the construction of a new skyscraper. There are no period buildings left in the area of the old Haymarket. This monument was placed at the martyrs' graves in what used to be the Waldheim Cemetery in 1893. The Waldheim Cemetery has since been absorbed into the larger Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park which is just west of Oak Park and Chicago. Over the years, a number of other well known and not so well known labor activists have been buried next to the Haymarket Monument. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn who was a key member of the IWW is buried here. Half of the ashes of Big Bill Haywood, another key IWW leader, were scattered here. There is no monument or gravestone for Haywood that I could find. Lucy Parsons, also of the IWW, is buried here. Emma Goldman, one of the best known anarchist activists in American history, was buried here in 1940, as are many others. This constellation of radical labor activist graves has become known as Radical Row.
These graves are all very close together. Forest Home Cemetery is vast and does not have an accessible directory or directional signs. Do not expect to be able to find anything in the Cemetery without good directions or a map. The photo captions on this page are links to google maps of the Radical Row grave sites.
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