The Haymarket Affair: The Surprising History of the Fight for the Eight-Hour Workday

An important anniversary in law and labor history is coming up! On May 4, 1886, workers gathered at the intersection of Desplaines and Randolph streets (a nine-minute walk from the present location of Chicago-Kent), known as Haymarket Square.

It was the fourth day of strikes in favor of an eight-hour workday. The police arrived at Haymarket late in the evening, when the demonstrators were already heading home on account of the rainy weather. A bomb was thrown at the ranks of police, killing an officer and touching off a panic that left another six officers and at least four workers dead. The state of Illinois put eight anarchists – mostly German immigrants – on trial for conspiracy.

Professor César Rosado Marzán, co-director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace at Chicago-Kent, says: “The trial wouldn’t meet most people’s definition of ‘fair’: suspicion of immigrants and working-class people was widespread, and both the judge and press were fervently pro-prosecution.”

(Note: The contemporary print reproduced above, with its heroic depiction of the police captain, was typical.)

The eight defendants were convicted; four were hanged, one (also sentenced to death) committed suicide in prison, and three served prison terms. What they were fighting for – the eight-hour workday – became a reality for many, and May 1 is now International Workers Day.

Event Recap: 4th MLK Forum – Legal Racism: How Inequities Created by the Law Can Be Eliminated by the Law

Assistant Dean Marsha Ross-Jackson
Assistant Dean Marsha Ross-Jackson introducing the 4th MLK Forum at Chicago-Kent College of Law

On  January 24, 2019, Chicago-Kent hosted the 4th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Forum sponsored by the law school’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Multiculturalism & Professional Development as well as several faculty committees, departments, and student organizations.

Erika K. Wilson, Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy & Associate Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, was the featured speaker, presenting a talk titled “Legal Racism:  How Inequities Created by the Law Can Be Eliminated by the Law.”

After Professor Wilson’s discussion, other panelists gave their perspectives on the impact of legal racism in finance, education reform, and housing policy. An open question and answer session followed that addressed specific examples, terms, and trends from the presentation and the speaker discussion. 

You can find the full videos of the event on our YouTube channel, or view individual videos with the slides and the different speakers and questions in a playlist or our recap below: Continue reading “Event Recap: 4th MLK Forum – Legal Racism: How Inequities Created by the Law Can Be Eliminated by the Law”

Meet Tobias Rodriguez, Class of 2019

When Tobias Rodriguez enrolled at Chicago-Kent, he knew he wanted to address the access to justice gap. In this profile, he shares how our labor and employment law and public interest law programs have helped him find his path and how he’s been able to contribute to our community as a student leader. Continue reading “Meet Tobias Rodriguez, Class of 2019”