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Program 3: The Clara Lemlich Awards

  • Museum of the City of New York 1220 5th Ave New York, NY, 10029 United States (map)

A celebration of women who, in the spirit of Clara Lemlich, stood up and said the time to act is now. These women heroes of labor are honored each year in a moving ceremony at the museum.

Save your spot for the screening by RSVPing on Eventbrite for free tickets here.

Who was Clara Lemlich

“I’VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY” shouted the 23-year old Clara Lemlich in her native Yiddish during a tense, crowded meeting of garment workers in Cooper Union’s Great Hall in 1909.  Rising from the audience, she interrupted Samuel Gompers and the other union leaders on stage.  Her speech inspired the crowd, leading to an unexpected vote to strike, and to what would become known as the Uprising of 20,000.  

Born to a Jewish family in the Ukraine, Lemlich migrated to the U.S. in 1903, found work in the garment industry, and soon became active in the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. The 1909 strike led to reforms – but the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was a hold-out and did not implement safety improvements.

The fire that took 146 lives on March 25, 1911 was seen across the country as a tragedy that could have been avoided, and it sparked a movement that pushed politicians to accept a new notion about the responsibilities of government.  Lemlich continued to be active in the labor movement until she was pushed out for her leftist politics. She continued to work for women’s suffrage, led a boycott of butcher shops to protest meat prices, campaigned for unemployment relief, and fought for tenants’ rights.

One hundred and three years later we are proud to honor her legacy and to honor those who follow proudly in her footsteps. - See more at: