The annual Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival will be hosting an art-inspired event over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend to honor the leader’s contribution to the civil rights and labor movement.
“The event is about solidarity and bringing people together to share experiences and getting down to learning about issues that workers are facing and struggles that are currently going on,” said David Winters, founding member and festival organizer.
The 28th annual festival which began in 1986 aims to raise awareness for workers in the greater Bay Area and explore topics surrounding social justice and economic change during an era of hard times and uncertainty, Winters said.
The festival was founded out of union roots but is not directly tied with unions, Winters said. Still, he said contributions from the events do go toward working families in need. This year’s proceeds from the Sunday evening benefit concert will go toward the Second Harvest Food Bank.
“Not everyone is union but there are people that are concerned about workers and their lives,” Winters said. “It affects everyone.”
Beginning on Friday, Jan. 17, the festival, which is open to the public, includes workshops, documentary film screenings, music, poetry swaps and artwork.
“It is important to use culture and the arts, (they) lend themselves to help us learn about things,” said Winters.
On Jan. 18 and 19, the workshops will feature performances by the New York City Labor Chorus, Rockin’ Solidarity Labor Heritage Chorus and singer/songwriter Jimmy Collier. There will also be screenings of documentaries such as, “Dirty Wars” by Jeremy Scahill and “Brother Outsider,” a film about civil and gay rights activist Bayard Rustin.
Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival will be held Jan. 17, 18 and 19 at the Machinists Hall, IAM Local 1781 at 1511 Rollins Road in Burlingame. A shuttle will be provided at the Millbrae BART and Caltrain station. For more information go to www.westernworkersfestival.org.