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Oklahoma's labor tradition celebrated at Oklahoma Laborfest



Oklahoma Laborfest
The Plaza District

Oklahoma's state motto, "Labor omnia vincit" (which translates to "labor conquers all things"), points to a state that was founded on the principles of hard work and virtues of the working class.

But Tim O'Connor, president of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation, feels that Oklahoma citizens might have lost touch with their roots.

"A small group of us in the labor movement thought Oklahoma had forgotten, or not realized, the rich labor history the state has to offer," O'Connor said. "We wanted to bring back that education."

So the group got to work on a new event, Oklahoma Laborfest, meant to remind the metro of the state's rich heritage of labor. To do so, the group organized a slew of different free events and attractions slated for Thursday through Saturday in the Plaza District, including panel discussions, poetry, live bands, a live mural painting and more.

A performance titled "Oklahoma Speaks" is one of the highlights of the festival, slated for 7-10 p.m. Saturday at Lyric Theatre. It will feature dramatic readings by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Stewart Acuff and Davis Joyce from historical texts from Oklahoma's labor and civil rights movements. Musical performances by Mary Catherine Reynolds, Louise Goldberg and the Red Dirt Rangers are scheduled.

O'Connor said the response to the festival has been so positive that it has prompted them to start ticketing the "Oklahoma Speaks" engagement " although it is still free to the public " and already considers the event to be a major accomplishment.

"We already think it is a success, because it's never been done," he said. "We are happy to have initially built something that should be able to last and be built upon each year."

To reserve tickets to "Oklahoma Speaks," call 634-4030. For more information, visit "Joshua Boydston

photo Red Dirt Rangers are among the live performers on the bill at Oklahoma Laborfest.

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