Grantee Focus: Labor and Workers’ Rights Related Grants 

September 4, 2023

Labor Day is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the hard-won and profoundly impactful changes wrought by the American labor movement, beginning in the 19th century and continuing into the present day. 

The Puffin Cultural Forum will be mounting an exhibition of photos entitled “We Are One,” which documents the monumental 1982 garment workers strike in Chinatown. The opening is Friday, September 8th, at 7:00 pm, and the exhibit will remain on display until November 30th.

We would also like to share with you several projects supported by The Puffin Foundation that beautifully preserve and share labor history so that its lessons, struggles, and victories will never be forgotten.

The American Labor Museum

Labor Arts Class Students Quilt Project

With support from The Puffin Foundation, The American Labor Museum at the Botto House National Landmark (site of rallies during the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike), offers free Labor Arts classes for students grades three through five. The classes are designed to introduce students to the history and contemporary issues of immigrants and the labor movement with a focus on global environmental challenges faced by both groups.

In addition to enriching the students’ knowledge about the arts, the program seeks to enhance the development of social consciousness through exposure to social problems (i.e. undocumented employees, worker exploitation, child labor, etc.). 

The museum offers visitors restored period rooms, a free lending library, Old World Gardens (including a bocce court, grape arbor, root cellar and chicken coop), changing exhibits, teachers’ workshops and special events.

Labor Arts/Clara Lemlich Awards 

The Puffin-supported  Clara Lemlich Awards for Social Activism are named in honor of the garment worker who became a leader of a strike of 20,000 shirtwaist workers in 1909 and continued to be an activist throughout her long life. The Awards honor elder women activists who have made lasting change in the world. 

The awards are hosted by Labor Arts and  The Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, and in 2023 were held at The Museum of the City of New York on May 19 in The Puffin Gallery for Social Activism.  
The recipients of the 2023 awards include: Black and Latino cultural correspondent Angela Fontanez, urban environmentalist Olive Freud, civil rights and UFT organizer, Chinatown union leader Alice Ip, and prison reform organizer Barbara Martinsons. In memoriam: Holocaust educator Anita Weisbord and Clara Lemlich’s daughter Rita Margules.

Triangle Fire Coalition

Demonstration of protest and mourning for Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911

The Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition connects individuals and organizations with the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire — a pivotal event in US history and a turning point in the labor movement’s struggle to achieve safer working conditions and fair pay. 

The Puffin Foundation is a supporter of a new memorial to the victims and legacy of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which is being installed on the same building that housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

The unveiling and dedication of the memorial will take place on Wednesday, October 11th, at 11:30 AM. The event is free and open to the public.

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