Don’t Mourn, Organize!

joe hill

Don’t mourn, organize!‘ is an expression often incorrectly supposed to be the last words spoken by labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill, who was charged with murder and executed in Utah in 1915. In truth, the expression is part of a telegram sent to Bill Haywood, the founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), in which Joe wrote, ‘Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!’ It wasn’t Joe’s last telegram; he sent another in which he implored Haywood, ‘Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.’

Since the death of Hill, the phrase has been used in association with other labor leaders’ deaths. The phrase has also been used in conjunction with a severe defeat and not the death of an individual.

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