Labor Day: A trip down memory lane for every American

Labor Day was first celebrated locally statewide before a national holiday. Labor Day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City before it was switched to Mondays.

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of every September and falls on different dates every year. The very first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5. This year, it falls on September 6.

In this article

Labor Day is right around the corner! And most of us are looking forward to enjoying this day off of work while also celebrating the end of summer. Yes, summer 2021 will be ending officially so it’s time to get the party started with family and friends at picnics, pool parties and BBQs. 

But Labor Day has more to it than just backyard parties. What rings a bell when you think of Labor Day? Just like most other holidays, we tend to enjoy the day off from work. But do you know what it was originally created to celebrate?

Labor Day: How it all began

While Labor Day was founded much earlier, it became significant for Black people after the Pullman Strike in 1894 when President Cleveland wanted to gain political favor by honoring railroad workers. The involvement of the Black Pullman porters in the labor movement is not stressed enough though.

Pullman porters were Black men who worked in the train cars and they constituted a significant portion of the Pullman company’s workforce.

The Black railroad workers formed their own union called the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, which was the first Black union in America. A. Philip Randolph was the first president of the union. He was also the brains behind the first march on Washington. This march resulted in an order barring racial discrimination in the federal defense industry.

Labor Day and Black history

The major win for Randolph and other Civil Rights activists allowed Black people to get employed in industries that they were barred from. This would not have happened if Black workers hadn’t fought for equality in the workforce.

So while you enjoy Labor Day this year, remember those who fought for you to enjoy this day with family and friends. Whether you work in a corporate firm a home business, this day was created to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers.

So, in honor of Labor Day here are some fun and interesting facts in your pursuit of understanding Labor Day.  

End of the white pant era

Labor Day is usually known as the end of the white pants season. A three-day-long weekend and the last-of summer cookouts. There used to be a fashion rule saying you couldn’t wear white after Labor Day, but people don’t follow the rule now and wear white clothes year-round.

When it all began

The first Labor Day celebration was in 1882. The Central Labor Union in New York had planned a parade. However, Oregon was the first state to declare Labor Day as a holiday in 1887.

Not everyone joined the club

While it was made legal in a few states, it wasn’t a legal holiday everywhere …until a massive Pullman Strike happened in 1894. The workers boycotted the railroads to fight for normal schedules and living wages. So to honor the labor movement, President Grover Cleveland officially declared Labor Day a national holiday.

The national holiday

The holiday celebrates and honors the nearly 160 million working Americans. The rest of the world celebrates the likes of Labor Day on May 1 and calls it International Workers’ Day. Some participate in parades, while others advocate for workers’ rights through different means.

The third cookout

It’s the third most popular day of the year to have a cookout. Post Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. So people who aren’t shopping or working are indefinitely firing up the grill. The peak hot dog season ends as of Labor Day. Did you know that Americans consume close to 7 billion hot dogs from Memorial Day through Labor Day? That number makes sense — just thinking about all the summer parties grilling.

Back-to-school again

Many public schools have their first day of the academic year a day or two after Labor Day. So parents can catch up on some last-minute back-to-school shopping on the holiday weekend!

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