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The Ballad of Harry Bridges

Pete Seeger


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‎[1941]‎
Su alcuni siti il testo di questa canzone viene attribuito ad alcuni degli Almanac Singers, ‎ossia Lee Hays, Millard Lampell e Pete Seeger…. Ma lo stesso vecchio Seeger in un’intervista ‎ascoltabile su YouTube racconta che furono lui ‎e Woody Guthrie a scriverla nel 1941 a San Francisco, dove si erano incontrati perché ‎entrambi erano lì per manifestare contro l’espulsione dagli USA del leader sindacale Harry Bridges.‎

Harry Bridges con la figlia Katherine.‎
Harry Bridges con la figlia Katherine.‎




Harry Bridges (1901-1990) era nato a Melbourne, in Australia. Marinaio fin da giovanissimo, era ‎approdato negli USA nel 1920. Divenuto operaio portuale, Bridges si era subito avvicinato ai ‎Wobblies, gli agitatori dell’Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Nei primi anni 30 emerse come ‎figura di riferimento all’interno di un gruppo di sindacalisti rivoluzionari noto come “Albion Hall ‎Group”, responsabile del grande sciopero dei portuali di San Francisco del 1934 nel corso del quale ‎la polizia in varie occasioni sparò sui lavoratori in protesta, uccidendone due, Howard Sperry e ‎Nick Counderakis (fu il cosiddetto “Bloody Thursday”, 5 luglio 1934). Nel frattempo Bridges fondò ‎quell’International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) che avrebbe poi diretto per quasi 40 ‎anni. Sia l’amministrazione Roosevelt che quella Truman trovarono in Harry Bridges un tenace ‎antagonista e cercarono in ogni modo di metterlo fuori gioco, arrivando ad indagarlo per ‎comunismo ed attività antiamericane e cercando di espellerlo verso il paese natale. Solo nel 1955 ‎Bridges vinse la battaglia legale contro il Governo e potè essere finalmente naturalizzato come ‎cittadino statunitense.‎
Let me tell you of a sailor, Harry Bridges is his name,
An honest union leader whom the bosses tried to frame,
He left home in Australia, to sail the seas around,
He sailed across the ocean to land in Frisco town.‎

There was only a company union, the bosses had their way.
A worker had to stand in line for a lousy dollar a day.
When up spoke Harry Bridges, “Us workers got to get wise.
Our wives and kids will starve to death if we don’t get organized.”‎

Oh, the FBI is worried, the bosses they are scared
They can’t deport six million men they know.
And we’re not going to let them send Harry over the seas.
We’ll fight for Harry Bridges and build the CIO.‎

They built a big bonfire by the Matson Line that night.
They threw their fink books in it and they said we’re going to fight.
You’ve got to pay a living wage or we’re going to take a walk.
They told it to the bosses but the bosses wouldn’t talk.‎

They said there’s only one way left to get that contract signed.
And all around the waterfront they threw their picket line.
They called it Bloody Thursday, the fifth day of July,
Four hundred men were wounded and two were left to die.‎

Oh, the FBI is worried, the bosses they are scared
They can’t deport six million men they know.
And we’re not going to let them send Harry over the seas.
We’ll fight for Harry Bridges and build the CIO.‎

Now that was seven years ago and in the time since then
Harry’s organized thousands more and made them union men.
‎“We must try to bribe him,” the shipping bosses said,
‎“And if he won’t accept the bribe, we’ll say that he’s a red.”‎

The bosses brought a trial to deport him over the seas,
But the judge said, “He’s a honest man, I got to set him free,”
Then they brought another trial to frame him if they can.
But right by Harry Bridges stands every working man.‎

Oh, the FBI is worried, the bosses they are scared
They can’t deport six million men they know.
And we’re not going to let them send Harry over the seas.
We’ll fight for Harry Bridges and build the CIO.‎

inviata da Dead End - 7/3/2013 - 11:03


Longshore workers striking in 1934 took a break on July 4th, 1934 for Independence Day before returning to picket lines. On July 5th, San Francisco police opened fire on striking workers, killing two and injuring 109 in what has since come to be known as Bloody Thursday. The deaths and subsequent turnout of 40,000 for the funeral procession turned public opinion in favor of the workers.


Dead End - 7/3/2013 - 11:26


Dead End - 9/3/2013 - 10:06


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