Don't mourn, organize!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 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 in association with other labour leaders' deaths. It is particularly popular within the Industrial Workers of the World. The phrase has also been used in conjunction with a severe defeat and not the death of an individual.[2]

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.

The phrase has been used as recently as 2010. After the death of Howard Zinn, a Boston Globe article was titled with this phrase.[3]


  1. ^ Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, pp. 235.
  2. ^ "Don't Mourn, ORGANIZE!". Daily Kos. August 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  3. ^ "Zinn: Don’t mourn, organize!". The Boston Globe. January 29, 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-14.