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 Victims of the Ford Hunger March

Victims of the Ford Hunger March

Birth
Death 7 Mar 1932
Burial Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Plot Northeast Section Fernwood Block 18 Graves 20-24
Memorial ID 3217 · View Source
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Memorial. It commemorates five men who died in one of the more notorious labor clashes of the Great Depression. On March 7, 1932, 3000 unemployed autoworkers and union organizers gathered in Detroit's East Side for a protest march on the Ford Motor Company's Rouge Plant in Dearborn, where tens of thousands had been laid off since the 1929 Wall Street crash. Their goal was to present a list of demands to Henry Ford - a rather unrealistic one, given the industrialist's well-known anti-union sentiments. The demonstration passed peacefully across the River Rouge, but at the Dearborn city limit they were met by police with tear gas. They fought back with rocks and frozen mud and continued to within 50 yards of the Ford factory's Gate 3, where the police regrouped and firemen turned their hoses on the crowd. This prompted the arrival of Ford's "Service Department" - the company's armed security force - and according to eyewitnesses it was these men who fired at the demonstrators, shooting some in the back as they tried to flee. Four were killed at the scene: Joe York, Joe DeBlasio, Coleman Leny, and Joe Bussell. Over 60 were injured. On March 12 an estimated 60,000-strong funeral procession accompanied the slain workers' caskets to Woodmere Cemetery, where they were interred side by side. Three months later demonstrator Curtis Williams died from his wounds, but was denied burial beside his comrades at the segregated Woodmere because he was African-American. His ashes were reportedly scattered by plane over the cemetery or, according to some accounts, over the Ford plant. As with other bloody labor disputes of the era, there was no police investigation and Ford was never held accountable for the killings; but the incident gave union organizers a moral victory and drew many to their cause. By 1941 the United Auto Workers Union had grown powerful enough in Detroit to force Ford into signing an agreement with them, the last major US automaker to do so. In 1992, UAW Local 600 provided new grave markers for York, DeBlasio, Leny, and Bussell, along with a cenotaph for Williams. Each is inscribed, "His Life for a Union".

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 19 Jul 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3217
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Victims of the Ford Hunger March (unknown–7 Mar 1932), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3217, citing Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .