As the clock struck one, Teamster brothers and sisters drove into the parking lot at Boom Island and were greeted by the monumental maroon truck broadcasting the iconic horses to anyone and everyone that strode by. The crowd of people entered the park and flooded around the stage as Senator Al Franken, sporting his brand new maroon Teamsters shirt, stepped up to speak. A long time friend of labor, Franken spoke about the importance of workers. He thanked us for our continued support and stayed long enough to get a picture with all who attended. Next to speak was General Secretary Treasurer Emeritus and former President of Local 120, Tom Keegel. After a brief background of his Teamster history, he spoke about the reason everyone was there: the Teamsters Strike of 1934. As many descendants watched, including three granddaughters of Henry Ness, one of the two brave men killed on Bloody Friday, Keegel spoke about the bravery of the men and women 80 years ago who fought to better not only their lives, but the lives of the generations of people to come. “The Citizens Alliance that told everybody that Minneapolis is going to forever be a non-union town would turn over in their graves because it’s one of the best union towns in the country because of what they [the strikers] did in 1934.” Others to speak included City Council Member Jacob Frey, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, State Representative and descendant of a striker Debra Hilstrom, Joint Council 32 President Pat Radzak, and two IBT representatives: Christy Bailey, Director of the IBT Political and Field Action, and Jeff Farmer, the Director of the Teamsters Organizing Department.
Not long after the speeches ended and the food lines died down, buses arrived to shuttle us to the site of the StarTribune, which marked the starting point of the march to the site of Bloody Friday. Buzzing with anticipation, Teamster brothers and sisters waited as the Teamster truck slid out of the parking lot before lining up behind it to start the march down the streets of Minneapolis. A marching band lead the crowd as they cheerfully played and sang songs about the unions. American flags waved and signs of various shapes and sizes were proudly held up as we marched slowly and in solidarity with one another and with those who, 80 years ago, lined the streets to take action against oppression. Many onlookers lined the sidewalks to cheer us on. As we entered the site of Bloody Friday, one could almost feel the energy of the 35,000 who came before us to demand dignity and rights in the workplace. Everyone stopped and faced the truck as a large and bright wreath wrapped with a banner that read “Remember 1934” was carried out of the truck by two descendants of the strikers, Representative Debra Hilstrom and Retired Teamster member Harry Villella, as well as two Teamster Stewards, Marty Brinkman and Cecil Alston. Slowly, the wreath made its way towards the corner of the street where it was gently placed on the easel that was waiting for it. Teamster Brother, Bill Moore, then called for a minute of silence. Bagpipes reverberated off the buildings as the familiar song ‘Amazing Grace’ was played in commemoration of John Belor and Henry Ness, the two men murdered during the strike. The final act of the picnic/march was all of the Teamsters who attended uniting together to cheer and celebrate all that the heroes of 1934 were able to accomplish.