Still thinking about the great Woody Guthrie tribute in Oklahoma City. It was such a great and powerful night. It reminds me of the power of our work, in this case, the art of music and the written word. Woody’s words and music are just as relevant today as they were in The Great Depression.
There is also a power in the combination or synchronicity of trade union and progressive values, poetry and the written word, and music. Somehow the three combine to educate and inspire. There is real vision in what the folks like Rachel Jackson and Tim O’Connor have done around Woody’s legacy, and the music and words he left us.
It doesn’t have to be Woody. Every city and community have a rich, progressive and union history, words, and music that can be used to inspire and educate us all today. In Atlanta, it was the history and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
Back to Oklahoma, the music was amazing. The Red Dirt Rangers, Monica Taylor, and Buffalo Fitz were perfect for Woody’s songs. The beautiful mix of readers from almost every progressive cause gave a real power of diversity to all the wonderful essays, letters, and thoughts Woody put on paper.
Woody lived his life loving others, standing up for justice, fighting fascism. He wasn’t particularly well educated or trained, but he was that artist who was filled with love and a passion for justice that he had to let out and give voice to, and we are all stronger for it.
Stewart Acuff is America’s best-known and foremost labor organizer. He is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work, coauthored by Dr. Richard Levins.Tags: acuff, dr martin luther king jr, stewart acuff, woodie guthrie