March marks Women’s History month and what better way to celebrate than by commencing labor activist and community organizer Mary Harris “Mother “Jones. Jones, who was dubbed as “the most dangerous woman in America” at the ripe age of 60, is better known for her role in organizing the United Mine Workers of America —a group of oppressed mine workers and their families who eventually revolted against mine owners in 1890. While the miners went on strike, it was Mother Jones who encouraged the men to allow let their wives to fight alongside their husbands in a series of “mop and broom” brigades.
Described by historians as a feisty and persistent woman, her impact and significance is immortalized in a song written by singers Ani Difranco and Utah Phillips.
There are several other songs that sum up Mother Jones’ life and accomplishments as well like this 1931 track by folktale singer Gene Autry.
Experts also speculate that the American classic “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain” is in fact about Mother Jones and her travels promoting unionization of the Appalachian coal miners.
These songs are a fantastic way to get students interactive with the lesson; And unlike when showing a video, the song serves true to one of the oldest forms of storytelling—thus students really need to focus and pay attention to hear what the singers are saying.
There are several different activities that can follow after playing these short songs—the obvious would be to simply have a quiz for comprehension.
Another activity that students might find more enjoyable however is writing their own song. The song might not have to be necessarily about Mother Jones, but maybe about another historical figure they’d like to highlight for Women’s History Month.
Another option that students might also enjoy is writing a news article about a prominent woman in history they’d like to focus on. Mother Jones was the inspiration for a magazine under the same name. The students can pretend they are writing articles for this particular publication.
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.