Mother Jones fearlessly questioned corporate rule and earned the title “the grandmother of all agitators.” She is a figure who lives on because the issues she raised are still of concern to us, still relevant in the twenty-first century.
Mother Jones was called The Miner’s Angel. But she did not like that label. She called on people to stop yearning for the afterlife and to focus on what they could do now. She earned the label not because she was angelic, but because of her seeming ability to appear whenever there was a struggle.
Jones was also known as the stormy petrel of the labor movement, the bird that is a harbinger of rough seas and a portent of danger. News that Mother Jones might be nearby conjured courage and determination in any group of people. Capitalists worked with judges and troops to silence and ban her from the storm centers of the labor movement. In 1902, a special prohibition in West Virginia, called the Mother Jones injunction, banned her from coming near to a strike, and this followed her in other areas of the country. But she tore up injunctions when they were handed to her, or threw them defiantly in the garbage, refusing to give up what she considered the rights of free speech and assembly. She was no angel. A prosecutor in West Virginia called her the most dangerous woman in the U.S. because of the power of her presence to stir people to militant action.