Don't mourn, organize!

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The cover of the compilation album which uses the phrase

"Don't mourn, organize!" is an expression often incorrectly supposed to be the last words spoken by activist and songwriter Joe Hill, who was falsely charged with murder and executed in Utah in 1915. In truth, the expression is part of a telegram sent to Bill Haywood, in which Joe wrote, "Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don't waste any time mourning. Organize!" It wasn't Joe's last telegram; he sent another in which he implored Haywood, "Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don't want to be found dead in Utah."[1]

Since the death of Hill, the phrase has been used both in association with other labour leaders' deaths and on the occasion of severe defeats. It is particularly popular within the Industrial Workers of the World.

The phrase is popular enough in its association with Joe Hill and the labour movement that it was the title of a music compilation made in 1990 and released by Smithsonian Folkways. The full title is Don't Mourn — Organize!: Songs of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill.

In 2010, after the death of Howard Zinn, a Boston Globe article was titled with this phrase.[2]

In 2017, activists have used the phrase to motivate protest against President Donald Trump and his administration.[3][4][5]


  1. ^ Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, pp. 235.
  2. ^ "Zinn: Don't mourn, organize!". The Boston Globe. January 29, 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
  3. ^ Steinem, Gloria. "After the election of Donald Trump, we will not mourn. We will organize". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  4. ^ Ford, Kieran. "Don't mourn, organize! Three ways millennials can build a better post-Trump future". Open Democracy. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  5. ^ Bauer, Andrea. "Don't mourn, organize! Donald J. Trump and the year of voting dangerously". Freedom Socialist Party. Retrieved 19 May 2019.