On the unusually warm day of May 5, 1886, some 1500 workers marched toward the huge Bay View Rolling Mills on the shores of Lake Michigan. They had rallied in a nationwide campaign to call for establishment of the eight-hour workday and their efforts ended with the deaths of seven, marking the bloodiest labor event in Wisconsin’s history.
The event, named the Bay View Tragedy, will be commemorated in the 131st Anniversary Commemoration ceremony at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 7, at the State Historical Marker site on the corner of S. Superior St. and E. Russell Ave. in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.
A re-enactment of the event, complete with larger than life-sized puppets, will be staged by actors under a production of Barbara Leigh, longtime director of the Milwaukee Public Theatre. There will be musical performances by prominent Milwaukee folksinger Craig Siemsen and additional music by drummer Jaymes Finlayson.
Luz Sosa, vice president of AFT-Wisconsin and a community organizer, will give remarks, linking the 1886 event to today’s issues.
This will mark the 31st consecutive year in which the anniversary commemoration has been held, all under the sponsorship of the Wisconsin Labor History Society, with additional support from the Bay View Historical Society and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. In recent years, crowds of up to 300 persons have attended.
The event is free and open to the public.