The name Bread & Roses used across the land

By Yadira
LAWRENCE — When textile mill workers sang a line from "Bread & Roses" during the Strike of 1912, they had no idea the words would gain in global significance.
The strike over the years came to be known as the Bread & Roses Strike and the name is now also associated with an eclectic variety of soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other organizations and establishments from Lawrence to California and even Cuba and Vietnam.
"Bread and Roses" comes from the title of a song of the same name written by James Oppenheim and used during the Strike of 1912, which involved tens of thousands of workers, mostly women, and lasted nine weeks.
Female strikers sang the lines, "For the people hear us singing: Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses! Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!"
For more than 30 years, Bread & Roses, a soup kitchen at 58 Newbury St., has been providing free meals, clothing, hygiene products and medical help to needy residents.
"It was the perfect name for it because it was in total context with what we intended," said director Bob Lanzoni.
"Our names take the two components, feeding their stomach and their soul, which we do with dignity by treating them like human beings," he said.
Also in Lawrence, the slogan is used for Bread & Roses Housing, which has provided homes and affordable home ownership opportunities to low-income families since 1988.
"Bread and Roses embodies the hope, economic justice, and human dignity that the workers struggled to achieve," is the group's mission statement.
Mary Breen, whose great-grandfather John J. Breen became the first Irish mayor in Lawrence, is keeping the name alive in Maine.
Breen, who grew up in North Andover, opened Bread & Roses Bakery in Ogunquit 23 years ago.
"It's important to remember because you want to treat people the way you want to be treated," Breen said during a telephone interview.
She learned about the history of the strike from reading history books. But it was the photograph depicting the workers out on the streets that inspired her to use the name for her shop.
"I had a dream about the mural and liked the philosophy that you need the good things in life as well as the necessities," Breen said.
Since so many people who visit ask about the origin of the bakery's name, Breen made postcards explaining the history of the strike and the song.
Around the country the name Bread & Roses is used by a Catholic worker advocacy center in Olympia, Wash., a feminist radio show in Portland, Ore., a food cooperative in Tallahassee, Fla., a housing collective in Syracuse, N.Y., and a cafe Venice, Calif., which serves about 150 homeless people daily.
Around the world the name is associated with a feminist group in Argentina, a bakery in Ottawa, Canada, a housing co-op in Kitchener, Ontario, for people with HIV/AIDS, a restaurant in Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam, a pub in London and a cafe in Paris.
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