Thousands singing 'Solidarity Forever' again, so here are the words... The Battle Cry of Freedom and the Battle Hymn of the Republic updated

As thousands of voices rang out inside Chicago's iconic Auditorium Theater on May 23, 2012, singing "Solidarity Forever," I was reminded of the recessional song that was sung as they took Jacqueline Vaughn away for her last motorcade in January 1994. Ms. Vaughn, who had led some of the greatest struggles of Chicago's working class in history, left us as the choir sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." A life dedicated for justice was receiving an appropriate final tribute.

The diminutive Chicago Teachers Union President Jacqueline Vaughn established herself as one of the great leaders of labor and the struggle for justice for working people by the time of the 1987 strike (above). One of the indicators of the distortion of Chicago history at the hands of corporate America was that after Ms. Vaughn's untimely and tragic death from breast cancer in January 1994, the ruling class wiped her memory out of the official history books and commemorations. The Chicago Sun-Times, for example, regularly feted privatization scoundrels like Marva Collins and many of the young generation that profited from the struggles of American for civil rights and against segregation and discrimination (among those Barack Obama and John Rodgers) while blacklisting Jackie Vaughn from Black History Month and Women's History Month. It was and is an important history lesson.

In 1859 the USA had more than a dozen state where slavery was legal, and the slave power was looking to expand south, farther into Mexico and also into the Caribbean.

More than songs would be necessary to abolish slavery in the USA — and to prevent its expansion through imperialist conquest elsewhere. The year was 1859. A militant abolitionist named John Brown unsuccessfully tried to spark a slave insurrection in the slave states. He was hanged by the slave power (the charge was "treason against the State of Virginia").

Within a year, a new tune was echoing through the abolitionist movement: "John Brown's Body." In the middle of the Civil War, the horrifying carnage that was necessary to end the evil of chattel slavery in the USA (the latest update on the death toll says it was more like 750,000, not the 600,000 in the history books we're using), the song "John Brown's Body" became "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" thanks to Julia Ward Howe. By 1865, hundreds of thousands of young men wearing blue were singing those songs as they marched through Georgia, followed by thousands of men, women and children for whom "Jubilee" had finally arrived.

But of course the war had been won, but the battle would continue to be fought, and the "Battle Hymn" would continue to be sung.

And 40 years after slavery was abolished (and the 13th, 14th and 15ht Amendments to the Constitution put into the expanded Bill of Rights), the tune was once again adapted to a new front in the battle for justice: the union movement. Below are the four ‘main’ verses of the union song “Solidarity Forever”. Two other verses from the “original” have been deleted. These below are the ones usually sung. The original was first published in the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) “Little Red Song Book”. A favorite You Tube rendition of the song is sung by Pete Seeger with illustrations from the early history of the union movement in the USA, including general strikes and many of the most famous figures in the history of American labor The URL is:

SOLIDARITY FOREVER! By Ralph H. Chaplin (Tune: "John Brown's Body", "Battle Hymn of the Republic") SOLIDARITY FOREVER

When the Union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run, There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun. Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one? But the Union makes us strong.

CHORUS Solidarity forever! Solidarity forever! Solidarity forever! For the Union makes us strong.

It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade. Dug the mines and built the workshops; endless miles of railroad laid. Now we stand, outcast and starving, 'mid the wonders we have made; But the Union makes us strong. (Chorus)

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn. But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn. We can break their haughty power; gain our freedom when we learn That the Union makes us strong. (Chorus)

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold; Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousandfold. We can bring to birth the new world from the ashes of the old, For the Union makes us strong. (Chorus)