"When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right. In every age there have been a few heroic souls who have been in advance of their time, who have been misunderstood, maligned, persecuted, sometimes put to death. Long after their martyrdom monuments were erected to them and garlands were woven for their graves."
- Eugene Debs. "Address to the Jury"
EUGENE V. DEBS
Debs was a prominent union organizer, a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and a five time candidate for president running on the Socialist Party of America ticket. He was a leading figure in the 1894 Pullman Strike, an event that cemented his reputation and his radical politics. In the years following the strike his spellbinding oratory and sharp insight was a catalyst for the progressive movement. His legacy and memory continues to inspire younger generations of activists.
A biography, a collection of his writings and speeches, and appreciations can be found here.
Before it's annexation into the City of Chicago, Pullman was a company town built and operated by industrialist George Pullman's railroad car manufacturing company. The town was intended by the company to provide housing and good quality of life for the workers at the Pullman factory. However, in 1894 pay cuts for employees without a reduction in rent led to a strike. The strike was a watershed moment in American labor history. Today, the neighborhood is a tight-knit and diverse community with many still living in the original buildings of the company town.
Pullman is now a national historic monument. More info about the site can be found here.
We hope to create a monument to Debs in recognition of his legacy and importance to the history of Pullman, the labor movement, and the country. In addition to being a symbol of remembrance, the monument is also an opportunity to add amenities and community spaces to Pullman.
The effort is spearheaded by longtime activist and community fixture Tom Shepherd in conjuction with a growing network of supporters and collaborators from the neighborhood and labor communities including Pullman based artist JB Daniel, and architect Keefer Dunn.
As the project takes shape this page will be updated. In the meantime scroll down for more information.
Bringing People Together
Speak with the residents of Pullman, the labor community, creatives, and government officials to open up a dialogue about how a monument could best be realized, serve the memory of Debs, and be a resource to the neighborhood and city.
Identify Potential Monument Sites
Find areas of opportunity in the neighborhood where a monument would best fit and begin to develop ideas for what the monument might look like and how it could be more than just a statue.
All projects need financial support to be built. If you are interested in making a contribution please send an email using the form below!
The Design Process
There is no design for a monument at this early stage in the project. The design process can take many shapes, but in any case we will draw on the expertise of artists, architects, and other creatives working in tandem with the relevant government officials and the Pullman community.
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