Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Moe FonerMoe Foner
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 592

getting all over the place. So that's the way that thing was conceived and carried out.

It worked because we were able to develop a loyal group of members. There wasn't too much a rank and file committee could do for a program, remember. Take the first program that started -- Howard Roberts Chorale. Howard is someone I've known for many many many years. Howard was -- I think I've mentioned -- he used to be a trumpet player with some of the big bands, and then became an arranger and choral conductor. He was a musical director for “Raisin,” for a lot of Broadway musicals. Very talented, decent man. He also used to do the Howard Roberts Chorale. Belafonte -- he was Belafonte's musical director, too. He would have a group of like seven, eight, ten singers, who he would rehearse with plus a few musicians, and they would do a concert. They would do a concert. He would arrange it, work songs. Black spirituals. You know, Black songs of slavery -- protest song. He would intersperse, and explain what it was. So his was the first show.

We had to do a lot of things. You had to contact the hospitals, to get approval. “We want to do this show.” I said to Davis, “Before we start Bread and Roses, call a meeting. Invite to the union the personnel directors of all the major hospitals, the League.” So we had a lunch meeting where I spun out for them what Bread and Roses was going to do, why it was going to be good for the union and it was going to be good for the industry. What we needed was the use of their auditoriums, and how we want to do it. We wanted to know what they thought. It was unanimity -- “Fine, great.” You know, it's a soft kind of thing. We're not doing anything that's going to --. One or two hospitals, three hospitals, no. It's an answer to your question also, because it's the organizational. You see we could not say to the endowments, “We're doing Bread and Roses for organizational purposes.” Obviously, why should they give you money for that?

But fundamentally, the Bread and Roses program did a couple of things. Number one, it united our members, brought lots of members together and excited them, and they felt good about the union. It brought them good programming, which is good for them too. Secondly, we helped build the image of the union. An enormous amount of p.r. -- television, radio, cameras coming in to the programs, interviewing workers all the time -- “What do you think?” -- and members looking at it on television and saying, “Gee! That's my union.” Plus, we wanted to put it in to hospitals where we did not represent the guild. In those places -- there were not many --

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help