Scale of atrocity * caliber of organizing

Title

Scale of atrocity * caliber of organizing

Description

Why do some tragedies generate change and others don’t?

109 years ago today the Triangle Shirtwaist fire killed 146 people - mostly Jewish & Italian immigrant women. The fire was key to winning labor & safety laws. The political power women built in its aftermath contributed directly to suffrage.

But many horrifying examples of venality and mismanagement don’t lead to any change at all. So why did this one? Here’s a simple equation: Scale of atrocity * caliber of organizing = possibility of change.

The Triangle fire was big - it's still one of the biggest industrial disasters in U.S. history. At the time of the fire, immigrant organizers like Rose Schneiderman, Pauline Newman, and Clara Lemlich were fresh from a significant success in the Uprising of 20,000.

In 1910, garment workers struck all winter - and won. The leaders built skill and fortitude in that fight, and were ready to take it further. They knew women who died at Triangle; Newman had worked there for years. For the public, the horror of women jumping from the Triangle factory's windows was catalyzing.

What will we make from this moment? 

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

25/03/2020

Files

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Citation

Daily Suffragist, “Scale of atrocity * caliber of organizing,” Daily Suffragist, accessed April 14, 2021, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/283.

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