Picnic planned for July 27, noon to 4 p.m. at Wabun picnic area


Twin Cities area labor activists and sympathizers will keep alive the spirit of the landmark 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike over the next two months with a 90th anniversary commemoration that includes art exhibits and panel discussion, film screenings and a wreath-laying ceremony, and culminates in a July 27 remembrance picnic.

The fierce 1934 strike was among several notable labor actions nationally that year and was credited with making Minneapolis a union town after years of resistance by the employers’ Citizens Alliance.

The events of 1934 are commemorated by descendants of the strikers and others to keep the spirit of 1934 alive in the labor movement, according to Bob Kolstad, a former Teamster and a member of the Remember 1934 Collective.

The capstone event of the commemoration will be a picnic on Saturday, July 27 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Wabun picnic area of Minnehaha Park. This event will feature food, speakers on past and present labor struggles, entertainment and a display of 1934 memorabilia.  A program of speakers will start at 1 p.m.

“I hope the commemoration events show people what can be accomplished when they pull together--better working conditions, a higher wage and a fairer shake on the job,” said Linda Leighton, a collective member and the granddaughter of Vincent Dunne, a leader in the 1934 strike.


The schedule of events opens on May 25 with Voters in Revolt, an art exhibition by Brooks Turner at HAIR+NAILS Gallery, 2222-1/2 E. 35th St., Minneapolis, which presents three bodies of work commemorating the strike. Four large machine-woven tapestries depict critical moments from the strike through collages of photos placed within imagined floral and forest landscapes. Strike Scenes, a series of pen and ink drawings on handmade paper, offers a more intimate view of the strike. The final work, Path Through the Wilderness, is a video and audio installation exploring the power and potency of labor organizing in Minnesota through the voice of Meridel LeSueur, the noted Minnesota writer of the proletarian literature movement. An opening event runs from 7-10 p.m. on the 25th.  and the exhibit continues Thursdays through Sundays from 1-5 p.m. through June 30.

Next up is the multi-artist exhibit 1934 & NowConnections of the Minneapolis Truckers’ Strike of 1934, which runs from June 3 to July 28 at the Cargill gallery of the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall. Participating artists include Mike Alewitz, Rachel Breen, Keith Christensen, Olivia Levins Holden, Juxtaposition Arts youth, Carolyn Olson, Mike Rivard, and Brooks Turner.  The exhibit will include banners, photographs, installations, paintings and a video presentation. The library is located near the sites of significant events during the strike.

“The exhibit explores the relationship of history to the present as well as workers’ role in social change, said exhibit organizer Keith Christensen. “The artwork will connect a wide range of perspectives that relate to the strike.”

An opening reception was held on Saturday, June 8 from 3-5 p.m.  On Saturday, June 15, there was an exhibit tour featuring the artists from 2-3 p.m., followed by a 3-5 p.m. panel discussion with the artists and historian Peter Rachleff.


On Sunday, June 23, a selection of labor-oriented documentaries will be screened at in the library’s Pohlad Hall from 1-4 p.m.  The main feature will be Labor’s Turning Point, a 43-minute documentary from 1981 on the 1934 strike that won recognition of the Teamsters as the bargaining representative of truck drivers and associated workers. Also showing will be: Breaking Walls, a 44-minute 2004 award-winning film created byJonathan Ben Efrat about a mural project in the Occupied Territories organized by labor activist-muralist Mike Alewitz and Arab construction workers; Dissent Minnesota, an 8-minute 2024 film by Mike Rivard, a local filmmaker who has documented many protests; and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Despair, a 30-minute 2021 film by Gus Ganley on the Teamster pension fund fight that led to successful legislation. 


On Saturday, July 20, a wreath will be laid in the warehouse district to commemorate Bloody Friday, the day when 67 unarmed strikers were gunned down and two died at the hands of police during tumultuous street battles as strikers tried to keep trucks from running their blockade.  The event will occur at 4 pm. at N. Third St. and 7th Av. N., where a plaque marks the site of the clashes.

A separate film screening is planned for Friday, July 26 at 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St., in St. Paul, featuring "Labor’s Turning Point,'' and a brief presentation of the history timeline of the 1934 strike with spoken word performances.


The culminating event of the commemoration will be the picnic on Saturday, July 27 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Wabun picnic area of Minnehaha Park. This event will feature food, speakers, entertainment, children’s games and a display of 1934 memorabilia.  Connections will be drawn between past and present labor struggles.


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