http://act.maydaygroup.org/php/archives_v10.php#10_1 Volume 10, Issue 1, August 2011 especially but others also. An excellent article attached from which I quote a wonderful passage: The demand among workers for the education enabling them to transcend their cultural impoverishment was fulfilled by two different institutions within the organized left. One was the labor unions which had then assumed, as has been observed, a much broader function in workers’ lives, very different from the narrowly focused, legalistic bureaucracies they have since become. An indication can be seen in a 2006 newsgroup posting11 from upstate New York electrical worker Jerry Monaco: My Italian working class neighborhood in an industrial town was ruled by General Electric, the Catholic Church, the democratic machine, and the union local. But the people in that neighborhood I remember from 1965, had a good eye for "the quality" of certain things -- good food of course, but also good music . . . My great grandfather could tell you why Verdi was good and Puccini was "like adding sugar to honey" and he never even finished the third grade. . . . My great Uncle Tony could tell you why Louis Armstrong was great . . . and why he liked Frank Sinatra and Billy Holiday but why so many other popular singers were "empty". Uncle Tony never graduated from high school, but he did take classes in classical music (at) the union hall. He belonged to a reading group at the union hall and read poetry. Yes there was a poetry group for the factory workers at the union hall in Schenectady, NY. I tend to think that because such people were around I learned to appreciate quality. Union halls fulfilled an important social, cultural and educational function for many thousands of workers, though so far as I know, these have not been the subject of much scholarly attention. Although the unions’ role was substantial, probably more central in advancing workers’ cultural education in the beginning of the 20th century were the now mostly forgotten workers schools operated under the sponsorship of the Communist Party. These, which included the Thomas Jefferson School for Social Science in New York, the Samuel Adams School in Boston, the Abraham Lincoln School in Chicago, the Los Angeles People's Educational Center and the San Francisco Labor School would spread to virtually every major city with a yearly enrollment of many thousands at their peak.12 While weighted towards the social sciences, economics, history, sociology, taught from a Marxian perspective, also available to students was a substantial humanities and arts curriculum with courses at the flagship Jefferson School in music history and music theory taught by composers such as Wallingford Riegger, Marc Blitzstein and by scholars such as Sidney Finkelstein and Charles Seeger.
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