Labor Hall of Fame Honoree (1990)
Eugene V. Debs
"Years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth...While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.."
Labor leader, radical, Socialist, presidential candidate, Eugene Victor Debs was a homegrown American original. He formed the American Railway Union, led the Pullman strike of the 1890s in which he was jailed, and emerged a dedicated Socialist. An idealistic, impassioned fighter for economic and social justice, he was brilliant, eloquent and eminently human. As a "radical" he fought for women's suffrage, workmen's compensation, pensions and social security all commonplace today. Five times the Socialist candidate for president, his last campaign was run from federal prison where he garnered almost a million votes.