Document 12B: "Brooklyn Hails Kate O'Hare at Two Big Rallies," New York Call, 18 June 1920, p. 1.
KATE O'HARE AT
TWO BIG RALLIES
Despite Storm, 5,000 Crowd
Two Labor Lyceums to
Greet Released Political
TELLS OF PRISON LIFE
Socialist Compares Penitentiary
With Horrors of Ancient
Despite a thunderstorm and heavy downpour of rain more than 5,000 persons last night went to the Brooklyn Labor Lyceum and the Brownsville Labor Lyceum to greet and welcome Kate Richards O'Hare. At about 9 o'clock it became necessary to close the doors, for the lyceums were packed to the walls with admirers of the woman who had returned from a 14 months' imprisonment at Jefferson City. Although soaked with the rain, the audience showed no lack of enthusiasm as Mrs. O'Hare, accompanied by her husband, entered the halls and took the platforms. There was cheering and applause that lasted for 10 minutes in both halls.
Tremendous enthusiasm was shown at the meeting in the Brownsville Labor Lyceum where, after the meeting hall was packed, 1,500 or more awaited outside in the rain to get a glimpse of Kate O'Hare and cheer her. As nearly as the fire ordinance would permit, the stairways and balconies in the lyceum were filled.
And the audience waited until 11 o'clock for the Socialist "ex convict" to arrive from the Brooklyn Labor Lyceum meeting.
As Mrs. O'Hare reached the platform of the Brooklyn Labor Lyceum, a small woman, a mother, who would not give her name, presented a large bouquet of red flowers to Mrs. O'Hare, explaining that it was an offering of love from the children of Williamsburg, who had saved and collected their pennies for this purpose.
Rubin Addresses Welcome.
George H. Goebel acted as chairman of the meeting at the Brooklyn Labor Lyceum, introducing Nat Rubin, Socialist candidate for Assemblyman from the 19th Assembly district, who delivered the address of welcome on behalf of the people of Brooklyn.
The response was made by Frank O'Hare, who told how, for the last six years, the O'Hare family had shared its maternal head with the workers of America in their advance towards economic freedom. He explained that such a meeting was not only for the purpose of welcoming Kate O'Hare back to the ranks, but as one of a great series in the education of the workers toward class consciousness.
"One day in Russia," he added, "the people spoke and an autocrat, who came from a long line of autocrats, went into oblivion. The people ruled. We need now more than all else teachers and educators to teach the people here when they shall speak."
Following the address of Frank O'Hare, Kate Richards O'Hare was presented to the audience. Tremendous applause greeted her. When it had subsided, she began telling how, a short time before she was sent to prison, she had stood with her little daughter at that some platform.
"Soon after that," she said, "I became a slave--a slave as much as the Negroes once were slaves. In 13 months I have gone back 2,000 years and lived the life of a Roman slave. I was sold to a prison contractor. My government, my country, whose wars my people have helped fight since Bunker Hill, sold me as a slave to a prison contractor.
Mrs. O'Hare then began the recitation of her prison experiences, some of which were so revolting that the audience interrupted with cries of "Shame!" It was her task, she said, along with the other women prisoners in the overall factory, each to make 18 overall jackets a day. Of the 19 women doing that work, only one could produce so much.
"The weak, who could not," she said, "were subjected to the same brutalities as were suffered by the old Roman slaves."
Telling of several prison reforms which she was able to bring about. Mrs. O'Hare told a story of the sanitation methods of the prison when she entered.
"It was on a Wednesday that I entered," she said, "and Friday came bath night." There was in the prison an Indian girl who, having been violated, had killed her seducer. The United States government sent Alice, this Indian girl, to prison for avenging her great wrong.
"From her seducer she had contracted syphilis. This bath day Alice was leaving the bathroom as I entered. Her body was covered with loathsome ulcers dripping with pus, vile pus when I entered. And I was told I must bathe in that tub. I looked at the loathsome mess. I hesitated. I said to the guard, 'Do you mean to say that the Department of Justice, the President and the members of the United States Congress, expect me to contaminate myself?' During the war we heard much of the atrocities of the Hun. Was there ever an authentic record of soldiers infecting the Belgian women?"
There were cries from the audience, "Never!" and "Shame!"
Continuing the story, Mrs. O'Hare said that she was told that she must use the tub or go to the "dungeon," but that, "by diplomacy," she "got away for that day." The next day, she said, she began an agitation for shower baths in the prison and three days later the showers were installed.
At the Brownsville Labor Lyceum meeting Mrs. O'Hare repeated a good portion of her speech, but interest in this meeting was heightened by the show of Socialist loyalty in the 3,000 or more persons who had waited until 11 o'clock for her arrival.
Among the speakers at this meeting were James Oneal, Joseph A. Whitehorn and Frank O'Hare. Abraham Tuvim, as chairman, introduced them. Welcoming Mrs. O'Hare Tuvim said she was wanted back in the movement, primarily to emancipate the workers of the world, but also for her influence in opening the jail doors for the hundreds of other class-war prisoners. She was needed, he said, to "help crystallize the discontent of the country and gather the disillusioned who had had faith in the good men of the Democratic party and bring them all under the banner of Eugene Victor Debs."
Many telegrams of congratulations and greetings to Mrs. O'Hare were received from Socialist party branches all over the United States.
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