Although not as famous as the 1894 Pullman Strike, the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike, or the 1930s struggles of Detroit auto workers, the Passaic episode brings together many of the important themes of labor history, such as the use of force to put down mass demonstrations, the issue of free speech, the role of intellectuals, and the attempt of the Communist Party to organize workers on an industry-wide basis.
Many of the most important figures of the 1920s rallied to the side of the Passaic strikers, including writer John Dos Passos, Socialist Norman Thomas, labor activist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and journalist Mary Heaton Vorse. The program features interviews with the late James Shenton formerly of Columbia University, Paul Buhle of Brown University, Dee Garrison of Rutgers University, and Steve Krinsky of Jersey City. There is also an interview with the late Martha Stone Asher, who at age 16 participated in the strike. Actors Phil Bosco and Allison Frasier bring to life the strike based on the writings of the strike organizer Albert Weisbord and his wife Vera Buch Weisbord.
Passaic on Strike! will premiere on NJN Public Radio on May 1 at 8 p.m. . The program is a co-production of the New Jersey Historical Commission and NJN Public Radio. Funding for the program was provided by the New Jersey Council on the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the New Jersey Historical Commission. It was written and produced by David S. Cohen of the Historical Commission and Marty Goldensohn of Swarthmore College.
Listeners can tune in to NJN Public Radio at 88.1 FM in Atlantic City, Trenton and Berlin; 88.5 FM in Sussex; 89.3 FM in Bridgeton; 89.9 FM in Manahawkin; and 90.3 FM in Cape May Courthouse, or they can listen online at: www.njn.net.