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article imagePullman Park could become the Statue of Liberty of American labor

By John Presta     Sep 1, 2014 in Politics
Chicago - The Labor Day holiday has its roots in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood, which is the site of our nation's first major labor strike, leading to the establishment of the holiday. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) introduced a bill to designate Pullman a National Park.
In a recent op-ed piece in the Chicago Sun Times, Kelly started the piece, referring to a Pullman National Park, "It could become the Statue of Liberty for American labor."
Kelly went on to write, "To declare Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood a national park would be to cement its role in our country’s labor movement. Pullman was the site of our nation’s first major labor strike, the place that produced the first African-American labor union, and the reason we today celebrate Labor Day."
The Pullman strike culminated in a deadly confrontation between strikers and U.S. Army troops, leaving an estimated 30 people dead. Legislation for the holiday was pushed through Congress six days after the strike ended in 1894. In an effort to conciliate organized labor after the strike, President Grover Cleveland and Congress designated Labor Day as a federal holiday. Samuel Gompers, who had sided with the federal government in its effort to end the strike by the American Railway Union, also spoke out in favor of the holiday.
In one of the most important pieces of legislation since the establishment of the Labor Day holiday, Kelly introduced a bill last January, H.R. 3929, National Historical Park Act, that would establish the Pullman National Historical Park in Illinois as a unit of the National Park System.
The bill has a growing list of 37 co-sponsors, including the entire Illinois Democratic delegation: Rep. Bobby L. Rush [D-IL-1], Rep. Daniel Lipinski [D-IL-3], Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez [D-IL-4], Rep. Mike Quigley [D-IL-5], Rep. Danny K. Davis [D-IL-7], Rep. Tammy Duckworth [D-IL-8], Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky [D-IL-9], Rep. Bradley S. Schneider [D-IL-10], Rep. Foster, Bill [D-IL-11], Rep. William L. Enyart [D-IL-12], Rep. Cheri Bustos [D-IL-17] and Rep. Aaron Schock [R-IL-18].
Three members of the Illinois Republican delegation also signed on as co-sponsors: Rep. Rodney Davis [R-IL-13], Rep. Adam Kinzinger [R-IL-16] and Rep. Aaron Schock [R-IL-18].
The legislation, if passed, would "preserve and interpret for the benefit of future generations the significant labor, industrial, civil rights, and social history of the Park, the significant architectural structures in the Park, and the role of the Pullman community in the creation of the first national Labor Day holiday in the world."
National Historical Park Act would also "coordinate preservation, protection, and interpretation efforts of the Park by the federal government, the state of Illinois, units of local government, and private and nonprofit organizations."
National Historical Park Act would "coordinate appropriate management options necessary to ensure the protection, preservation, and interpretation of the many significant aspects of the Park."
Last week, more than 300 people gathered into the historic Pullman Factory Complex to voice how they feel about the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum named as a site in a proposed Senate Bill (1962), which would designate a National Park in the community.
Kelly added in her Sun Times op-ed piece, "Just as the Statue of Liberty symbolizes the founding freedoms of our country, a national park at Pullman would be a monument to those who built our nation, an enduring tribute to a proud past that would pave the way for a more prosperous future."
The Pullman National Park would join our "past, present and future in a project that would be a crown jewel of our community and, combined with the prospect of a presidential library nearby, would make the South Side a must-see section of the city for tourists and residents alike," added Kelly.
More about Rep Robin kelly, Pullman National Park, Pullman, The Pullman Strike
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