I don’t. I wish I did, because I owe them a lot, and, if you’re American—maybe even if you’re not—so do you. These were participants in the Flint sit-down strike of 1936. Along with brothers and sisters in Minneapolis and San Francisco, along with steel workers and coal miners, garment workers and retail workers at Woolworth, they were part of the great strike wave of the 30s that shook American society to its core, and frightened the capitalists and their government so much that, trembling, and through gritted teeth, they gave us unemployment insurance, welfare, social security, a minimum wage, and legal protection for the right to organize.
But give the bosses credit: though they surrendered part of their wealth, they were not without cleverness. And as they gave up a few little bits of their plunder out of fear that if they didn’t they’d lose it all, they pulled their last trick: they pretended it was an act of generosity. And they put on their fake smiles, and hoisted Roosevelt on their shoulders, and said, “See what happens when you elect the right guy? That’s all it takes,” they said.
And some people bought it. Some people are still buying it. But if you want to know who to thank for those few things we’ve managed to wrest from those who get rich on our labor, don’t thank Roosevelt. Thank the men and women in that picture.
I wish I knew their names.