On Labor Day, Remembering The Ludlow Massacre

A historical photo of Ludlow, Colorado. Photo credit: Denver Public Library
A historical photo of Ludlow, Colorado. Photo credit: Denver Public Library

All Day on Labor Day, we’ll be playing work songs, long a topic of interest in our country’s labor history. On Music 101 the past two weeks, Margot has been focusing on this topic as well, sharing labor-inspired music from artists like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, all the way to contemporaries like Uncle Tupelo and Bruce Springsteen.

Remembering Ludlow

It turns out one of the most significant events in American labor law history tragically unfolded in Ludlow, Colorado in 1914. Known as the Ludlow Massacre, about 21 striking miners, plus women and children, were killed on April 20, as the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel And Iron Company led raids to quell a months-long labor unrest. The painful episode led to reforms over time, and today, the United Mine Workers of America owns the site, where you can view the memorial in Ludlow. 


Events like Ludlow engaged musicians, as well, who used their own bully pulpit – often a six-string guitar – to shine a light on labor issues. Sometimes known as a “work song,” and evolving through the decades, this is the music of labor, blue-collar, and sometimes a call to action.   

For more, you can listen to Music 101’s Look For The Union Label Part 1 and Part 2 below. 



Songs featured on Look For The Union Label, Parts 1 and 2

 “There Is Power In A Union” | Billy Bragg
“Joe Hill” | Joan Baez (live at Woodstock, 1969)
“Bread And Roses” | Judy Collins
“Solidarity Forever” | Pete Seeger
“Coalminers” | Uncle Tupelo
“Sprinkle Coal Dust On My Grave” | Orville J. Jenks
“Sixteen Tons” | Tennessee Ernie Ford
“Talking Union” | The Almanac Singers
“You Gotta Go Down And Join The Union” | Woody Guthrie
“Union Burying Ground” | Woody Guthrie
“Union Maid” | Old Crow Medicine Show
“The Ludlow Massacre” |Woody Guthrie
“Working Class Hero” | John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band
“Harlan Man” | Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band
“Coal Miner’s Daughter” | Loretta Lynn
“Jellico Coal Man” | T Bone Burnett
“Uniontown” | The Nightwatchman
“Factory” | Bruce Springsteen
“Allentown” | Billy Joel
“Working Man Car Wash Blues” | Jim Croce
“Cesar Chavez” | El Vez
“Maggie’s Farm” | Bob Dylan
“9 To 5” | Dolly Parton
“Union Strike Song” | from The Simpsons 
“Heigh-Ho” | The Dwarf Chorus
“Which Side Are You On?” | Dropkick Murphys