I’m at PIT airport waiting to board a flight and there’s a woman next to me reading a newspaper… The headline is about Greek farmers who opened fire on two dozen Bangladeshi strawberry pickers who were protesting poor conditions and six months without pay.
“The barbarians…” She said, pointing to the story and showing it to her husband who sat next to her.
My heart dropped. My stomach turned to knots.
Greeks. Barbarians. I couldn’t believe my ears.
But I don’t blame her.
What happened on that strawberry farm in Manolada is despicable. And yes, these farmers are indeed barbarians.
But let’s recall for a moment, the life and legacy of an immigrant from Crete named Ilias Spantidakis– aka Louis Tikas– who faced his own barbarians a century ago– and lost his life.
Tikas is perhaps one of– if not THE most important person to have impacted the American mining industry and one of the most significant labor union organizers in history.
Born in Loutra, Crete, Tikas arrived in Colorado in the early 1900s where he was the main labor union organizer at the Ludlow camp during a 14-month coal strike in southern Colorado from 1913-1914.
He was shot and killed during the Ludlow Massacre, the bloodiest event of the strike and one of the darkest chapters in American history. Ironically, the massacre in Colorado happened on April 20, 1914– almost 99 years to the day from the strawberry farm incidents in Greece.
It was the day after Greek Easter. Nineteen people were killed during the massacre by American mine foremen and national guardsmen who had been brought in by the company management to protect against the poor and destitute Greek immigrant mine workers and their families who occupied the labor camp.
My oh my how history repeats itself.
Too bad we don’t learn from it.
A century ago Ludlow… Americans on Greek immigrant workers. Yesterday Manolada… Greeks on Bangladeshi immigrant workers…
*The photo is from the funerals of the Ludlow Massacres in 1914