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Labor Lyceum Program

30 W Broad St
Rochester, NY 14614, US

Category: Labor Education

Used in the following map:

Rochester Labor History eMap

From 1897 to 1911 the Labor Lyceum met weekly on Sundays in the Common Council chamber in the old City Hall. An organization with elected officers and an advisory committee of prominent citizens, the Labor Lyceum, which, in 1897, grew out of the Knights of Labor and the Socialist Party Central Labor Congress, presented speakers, debates, and papers followed by discussion. Topics ranged from “The Right Conception of Trade Unionism”and “Child Labor, Its Cause and Cure” to issues of academic freedom in public schools, “Dogmatic and Practical Socialism,” and a critique of Edward Bellamy ’s Looking Backward.
In 1911 the Labor Lyceum was expelled from the Common Council chamber by Mayor Edgerton to prevent socialist Kendrick Shedd (“While I am a professor at the University of Rochester, I have not yet sold that institution my brains”) from delivering an address on “Free Speech.” Edgerton had already denied Kendrick access to the public school social centers where he ran popular evening and Sunday programs and where he had praised the red flag of international brotherhood over the flags of nations. On February 26, the Labor Lyceum met on the steps of City Hall, found themselves barred, and marched to the Shubert Theatre for a protest meeting at which 2000 heard Shedd defend free speech on public property.
In 1912 the Progressive Working People’s Lyceum agreed to sponsor the Labor Lyceum program and undertook construction of a Lyceum building at 580 St. Paul Street.


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