Labor Day with Ella Jenkins
    by John Cech

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That's Ella Jenkins, one of this country's great folksingers for young people, with a nursery rhyme especially for Labor Day. It's from her new CD, "Ella Jenkins and a Union of Friends Pulling Together," from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. The songs, rhymes, recitations, and anthems on this album remind us of the historical roots of Labor Day. It began in 1882 in New York City with a parade sponsored by the Carpenters and Joiners Union. In 1894 President Grover Cleveland declared a holiday for federal workers, and since then it has become a national celebration of the hard work that built and sustains this country. On this CD, Ms. Jenkins gathers together many new and traditional songs about working women and men, like this one from the 1800s, sung by Bucky Halker and the rest of the town, that reminds us who actually grows our daily bread:

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Along with celebrating the ideals and struggles of the labor movement, the recording is really about the nature of work itself, as a symbol for what brings us together, and we'll let Ms. Jenkins have the last word on this.

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Copyright 2003 John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."