Home
Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker
Moe FonerMoe Foner
Photo Gallery
Transcript

Session:         Page of 592

their reactions regularly and listen to what they say, you'll be able to apply what's been done in the past to the present circumstances.

The other thing I think you need is a passionate commitment. I think I've had it all the time, a commitment to bring the best there is to working people. I remember in 1981 when Harry Belafonte, performing in New York for the first time in seventeen years, came to do a concert for 1199 Bread and Roses at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. We packed the hall, 2,800 members of our union dressed in their best, in a place where they had never been in their lives, enjoying a program with Harry Belafonte, who contributed his services without pay but who interrupted every program, every song, to go to the footlights and reminisce on, “I was with you and with Dr. King in the civil rights campaign. I walked with you on the picket line in 1959. So I know you and 1199, and we are close, and that's why we're privileged to be here.”

I remember that a nurse's aide who was there said it was like reaching over the footlights to each other, and you had this feeling that you didn't know where the stage ended and the audience began. There was that close interchange. You'd have to have produced millions of leaflets, made thousands of speeches to do that kind of thing that would have proud identification with the union. People always say to me, “Why do you do it in Lincoln Center? Why do you have to do it?” Frankly, my feeling is our members have never been there, and that, I think, we persuaded him to come again the following year. I said, “Harry, you've got to get it done until you get it right.” And he did. And that event is an example, a good example, of what we're doing and why we're doing it.

Q:

That would be a perfect place to end, but I just want to go back with one question. Can you remember a time when -- this is about Bread and Roses' tangible benefits for union organizing and so on -- when a Bread and Roses program was used specifically to help in union organizing, maybe theater in the hospitals?

Foner:

In the case of our musical Take Care, which is a musical comedy, musical revue based upon oral histories with hospital workers, and where the material was then turned over to professional writers to write songs, sketches, lyrics, and we had interviews with workers, two groups of twenty-five workers, you transcribed them, took the notes.

Q:

I remember.



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