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The Bread and Roses Heritage Festival is an annual, open-air festival in Lawrence, Massachusetts that celebrates labor history, cultural diversity, and social justice. It is a free, day-long event featuring live music and dance, children’s activities, theater and spoken word performances, walking and trolley tours, ethnic food, Lawrence History Live! and information from local organizations involved in social justice issues.[1] The Bread And Roses Heritage Committee produces the event. The festival has occurred every year on Labor Day since its inception in 1986. Bread and Roses is the only broadly multicultural festival in Lawrence, the Immigrant City.[citation needed] The festival's name refers to the "Bread and Roses strike" of 1912, when over 20,000 immigrant workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts protested wage cuts for over two months, led by the Industrial Workers of the World.[2] The strike was notable for its short-term success, despite ethnic divisions among the workers and the preponderance of women among the protesters.[3]

Bread and Roses Heritage Festival
Poster for the 2013 Bread and Roses Heritage Festival.png
2013 poster
Location(s)Lawrence, Massachusetts


History of the slogan "Bread and Roses"Edit

The slogan "Bread and Roses" originated in a speech given by Rose Schneiderman; a line in that speech ("The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too."[4]) inspired the title of the poem Bread and Roses by James Oppenheim, published in The American Magazine in December 1911, which attributed it to "the women in the West." It is now commonly associated with the 1912 textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The slogan appeals for both fair wages and dignified conditions. The strike and slogan have been the inspiration for the names of a diverse collection of organisations and publications.

Bread and Roses Heritage CommitteeEdit

The Bread And Roses Heritage Committee, Inc. was established in 1986 and has been active ever since.[5]


  • To organize the annual Bread & Roses Labor Day Festival that celebrates Lawrence's history and diverse cultures through music, theater and dance.
  • To recognize, commemorate, inform, and share the labor history and social justice legacy of Lawrence's 1912 Bread & Roses strike with Lawrence's present day residents and people worldwide.[6]

Lawrence History Live!Edit

Lawrence History Live! was created in 2008 to give labor history, labor education, and the unique immigrant experience of Lawrence a more prominent place in the Bread and Roses Heritage Festival. Historians, writers, union representatives, artists and relatives of families linked to strikers present their insights into Lawrence's history in a centrally located tent. Lawrence History Live! also includes a segment on present-day issues facing Lawrence’s and the nation’s workers. Festival visitors are encouraged to participate and contribute their views in a question-and-answer format.[7]

Bread and Roses CentennialEdit

In honor of the centennial anniversary of the "Bread and Roses strike," The 1912 Strikers’ Monument Committee affixed a bronze relief to a boulder in Lawrence's historic Campagnone Common in October 2012.[8] The City of Lawrence also installed the Centennial Flag Pole in commemoration of the anniversary.[9] In addition, the Bread & Roses Heritage Committee commissioned a documentary[10] to capture the centennial celebration of 2012.

Members of the Labor Community organized a march from the Polartec Building in Lawrence to the 2012 Bread & Roses Festival. Speakers from the Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council and the Lawrence Teachers Union addressed those marching. Ethan Snow of the UNITE HERE labor union expressed the continuity of the labor struggle by linking the Occupy Wall Street Movement's "99 percent" slogan to the 1912 strikers and to the plight of modern laborers in Lawrence: “One hundred years ago, workers took a stand against the greed of the 1%. Today we are faced with a similar situation in Lawrence, and we too will take up the fight for current day Bread & Roses.” [11]

Centennial exhibitEdit

To commemorate the centennial anniversary of the "Bread and Roses strike," The Lawrence History Center opened an exhibit and cultural space on January 12, 2012 entitled "Short Pay! All Out!: The Great Lawrence Strike of 1912." The space is free and open to the public. The bilingual exhibit showcases the events of the "Bread and Roses strike," and the exhibit's cultural space is available for lectures, meetings, performances, and community gatherings relevant to the themes of the strike of 1912. The exhibit is housed on the sixth floor of the Everett Mill building (15 Union St., Lawrence, MA), the very place where the strike began.[12] The Bread and Roses Centennial Committee created an accompanying online exhibit.[13]


  1. ^ "Welcome to the Bread and Roses Festival! | Bread and Roses". 2013-09-02. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  2. ^ "The Strike That Shook America 100 Years Ago — History in the Headlines". 2012-09-03. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  3. ^ Bread and Roses strike[dead link]
  4. ^ Eisenstein, Sarah, Give us bread but give us roses. Working women's consciousness in the United States, 1890 to the First World War, Routledge, London 1983, p. 32, ISBN 0-7100-9479-5/
  5. ^ "Mission | Bread and Roses". Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  6. ^ "Mission | Bread and Roses". Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  7. ^ "Lawrence History Live | Bread and Roses". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  8. ^ "Bronze relief memorializing 1912 strike affixed to boulder » Merrimack Valley », North Andover, MA". Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  9. ^ "Renovations to Lawrence's historic Campagnone Common". City Of Lawrence. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  10. ^ "Bread & Roses Labor Day Festival 2012 Official Video - Directed by Lorre Fritchy". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  11. ^ "Labor Day March for Economic & Social Justice in Lawrence, MA". NH Labor News. 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  12. ^ "Lawrence History Center presents bilingual exhibit, "Short pay! All out! The Great Lawrence Strike of 1912" | Lawrence History Center". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  13. ^ "Welcome! | Bread and Roses Centennial Exhibit". Retrieved 2013-11-30.