Calumet council pass resolution in support of “Big Annie” statue

Photo via pasty.com Anna Klobuchar Clemenc Shavs, perhaps the most famous figure of the Michigan copper region’s labor strike of 1913, marching in a strikers’parade.

CALUMET — The Village council Tues. unanimously passed a resolution of support in response to a request to move forward with a project to fund and erect a statue of local historical icon, Anna “Big Annie” (Klobuchar) Clemenc somewhere in the village.

Lake Linden resident Vada Riederich addressed the council at its regular Dec. meeting with the request.

Riederich said she and a small committee intend to raise approximately $150,000 for the design, casting and placement of, a bronze, life-sized statue of Clemenc, which would be located “in an appropriate location” in Calumet.

Riederich said that it the committee’s hope that the statue can be placed in the Village Green space, where the plan allows for a display of something special.

Clemenc is recognized by Michigan Women Forward (MWF). She is also recognized by the Michigan House of Representatives.

Anna Klobuchar Clemenc Shavs was born in Calumet in 1888 to George and Mary (née Adam) Klobuchar, Slovenian immigrants. She was the eldest of five children. She was educated through the eigth grade, then went to work at a local church offering aid to crippled miners. She financially assisted her family by working as a laundress.

According to MWF, she played an instrumental role in shaping the labor movement in Michigan. Through her sheer bravery and commitment, she risked her own well-being by fighting for social and economic justice during the famous 1913 miners’ strike against the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company, located in Calumet Township. The strike began July 23, 1913, and ended nine months later in April, 1914. She was devoted to the active participation of women outside the traditional confines of the home. Having graduated from eighth grade, she was a relatively well-educated woman at that time, states MWF. Clemenc was an avid follower of Eugene Debs, Mother Mary Harris Jones, and the tenets of socialism. It was her independent nature and strong-willed character that inspired many men and women to take a stand for justice.

“Big Annie” was instrumental in the fight for worker’s rights during the 1913-14 Copper Miners’ Strike in Michigan’s Copper Country, states the National Park Service. In Feb. 1913, she founded and served as president of the Women’s Auxiliary No. 15 of the Western Federation of Miners, serving jail time and suffering with ostracization due to her efforts. Inducted into Labor’s International Hall of Fame and the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, “Big Annie” led a fight for social justice that was ahead of her time.

The Michigan House of Representatives declared June 17 Anna Clemenc Day in 1980 and described her as “one of Michigan’s most valiant, yet largely forgotten and unrecognized, women.” In 2013, Clemenc was inducted into Labor’s International Hall of Fame during a ceremony earlier this year in New York City and was honored with a ceremony at the Keweenaw National Historical Park Visitor Center in Calumet, Michigan on July 26, 2013

Riederich told the council that her committee has been encouraged by archivists at Michigan Tech and Michigan State University, along with staff of the Keweenaw National Historical Park and several local history-minded people.

Riederich told the council that her committee has been encouraged by archivists at Michigan Tech and Michigan State University, along with staff of the Keweenaw National Historical Park, including Park Supt. Wendy Davis. The committee has also been encouraged to move forward by Leah Polzien, executive director of Main Street Calumet and several local history-minded people.She also requested a June 17, 2023 parade to raise awareness of the project and further fundraising.

With the approval of the council’s resolution, which will include a letter to that effect, Riederich and the committee can proceed with planning for the Winter Carnival and other fundraising opportunities.


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