|Emma Goldman, seen in her police mug shot after being arrested in 1894.|
“Most of you left Russia, where you had a Czar who acted in as brutal a way as any man on
earth. Here in America we have capitalistic czars ... We have Gould and Astor and Sage
and Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. … You built the palaces and others are living in them. The
politicians are misleading you… We are told God will feed the starving, but that is humbug
in the nineteenth century."
"I will speak, they can arrest me if they please, but they cannot shut my mouth."
Emma Goldman – 1893.
Over three thousand people crammed themselves into New York City’s Union Square on that hot, sticky summer day, August 21, 1893. They carried red flags – symbol of socialists, nihilists, anarchists, and laborites around the world. Most of them wore rags and smelled from sweat. Most still spoke immigrant languages -- German, Russian, Yiddish, Polish, and Italian -- that sounded like menacing gibberish to native Americans.
Three months earlier, Wall Street’s Panic of 1893 had sent the US economy crashing into depression, throwing hundreds of thousands of men - bread winners - out of work. In 1893, long before government safety net programs, this meant starvation, poverty, disease … and anger!!!
The people in Union Square that day wanted to scream rage and demand their rights. They wanted a voice, no excuses, no apologies, no whitewash. And they knew they could trust finding it in their favorite rabble-rouser, Emma Goldman.
|Emma Goldman speaking in New York's Union Square, 1916.|
Emma Goldman’s first encounter with American prisons was about to begin…
What happened next? Click here for Part II, The Trial.