America the Battlefield

(Live)

Image and Caption: Group of mainly female shirtwaist workers on strike, in a room, New York, 1910, George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress) LC-USZ62-51003

Lyrics:

The ghosts of Shirtwaist Girls and Wobblies–Braceros and Okies too

Are bearing silent witness to what they won for me and you

From purple mountains to green valleys, fields of grain to Bowery alleys

Factory floors to tenement halls, from Barrios to mansions with guarded  gates and high stone walls

These are the battlefields on which they all fought

For wages that won’t be stolen and justice that can’t be bought

These are the battlefields on which they wept and bled

To buy us all a birthright of work with dignity instead

They were burnt and bruised and badgered

Hounded town to town, slandered and Red-baited

Cheated and beaten down

Factories and farms and mills and mines

Union halls and hiring lines

These are the battlefields their courage sanctified

Facing down greed and exploitation down with solidarity and pride

These are the battlefields that some wish that we’d forget

Because the forces of reaction are watching and waiting yet

Circling like a pack of jackals sniffing for a weak point to attack

‘Cause every cent begrudged to labor they bosses are drooling to claw back

The ghosts of Shirtwaist Girls and Wobblies–Braceros and Okies too

Are watching and they’re waiting, to see what we will do

From the board room to the spin room, courts to Congress too

These are our battlefields on which we must march

So the hard-won rights of labor aren’t stolen on our watch

 

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