When Irish citizen and famous labor organizer Jim Larkin came to the United States to get away from the turmoil he created in his homeland, it wasn’t long before he found himself locked up in an American prison.
Larkin had been convicted of inciting social violence and spreading anarchy. The fact that he was an ardent Communist and follower of Karl Marx did not help his case in the U.S.
The year was 1920 and America was deep in the grip of the “First Red Scare” driven by the fear of Bolshevism – the movement that had toppled the Russia monarchy in 1917.
But from the perspective of Larkin and millions of other people around the world, the only “crime” he was guilty of was fighting back against the wealthy corporate elites of the his day. It was big Business that held vast segments of society in a perpetual, generational state of poverty, child labor and slavery.
As a union organizer, Larkin stated his goal simply as: “A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” So even though he was seen as a dangerous agitator seeding chaos among the public, history has looked more kindly upon the life of Jim Larkin. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia
Larkin himself had been born into deep poverty in Liverpool, England. He was forced into child labor as a small boy to help his struggling parents earn enough money for the basics of food and shelter.
Growing up, Larkin toiled for years at backbreaking jobs for tiny wages that only guaranteed he would remain poor for life.
To change the dismal fate of the class of humanity he belonged to, Larkin found it necessary to take extreme measures to disrupt a deeply corrupt system.
His work organizing unions and fighting for the rights of the working class often embroiled him in deep trouble with the law and financial powers of the day – and yet, without the the extreme measures he employed, the future would have been bleak if Jim Larkin had not acted to change the world.
The name ‘Big Jim Larkin’ carries heroic meaning in Ireland today.