Let me take you on a pilgrimage to the labor that working men and women have done and continue to do for a long, long time.
Let me take you to the cotton fields of Alabama where my mother chopped cotton and labored in the mills no longer there, her fingers worked to the bone.
Let me take you to the coal mines of West Virginia where the black lung kills man after man.
Let me take you to the grape vineyards of California, the apple orchards of Washington and the orange groves where the migrants pick so that the rest of us will have our breakfast juice.
Let me show you the steel mills no longer alive with the fire that once breathed into men’s souls.
Let me take you to assembly lines of Henry Ford.
Let me show you the men who laid the steel rails hewn through the valleys and mountains to create the land that is America.
Let me take you to those who dig the diamonds and the gold out from the earth.
Let me sing of the men that climbed to the crow’s nest to spot the big whales.
Let me tell you of the garments sewn with the sweat and blood of immigrant labor.
Let me show you the Mohawk high walkers throwing the skyscrapers into being.
Let me take you to the men and the women who work in the slaughterhouses and in the poultry houses to bring the rest of America a meal.
Let me sing to you of the porters who work the railroads and the truckers who drive the eighteen-wheelers from one end of the earth to the other.
Let me introduce you to the maids who mop the floors and make the beds and clean our toilets.
Let me sing of the waitresses who serve our meals and the dishwashers who wash our dishes.
Let me show you the cashier and the bank teller and the delivery driver and the driver of the garbage trucks.
Let me introduce you to all that have and continue to do the labor. It is from these folks I have been hewn, I have been birthed. The peasants, the serfs, the blue collar workers who worked with pride and raised their heads up, knowing that their children would have a better life if only ….
Let me sing to you of the poetry of their work.