In 1899, the streets of New York City were filled with the voices of the Newsboys. Back then, newspapers were the only types of media in the city. They were the only ways to get information about what was going on in the world. There were two major newspapers sold, 'The New York World' and 'The New York Journal'. These were owned by the two most powerful men in the city of New York, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Newspapers usually were sold a "penny a paper", as they would say.
The Newsboys were made up of mostly poor orphans and runaways. They slept on the streets of New York with no place to go and no families to see. The only way they made money was from selling newspapers throughout the streets of New York. In addition, all of the money they earned from selling newspapers is the money that they used to purchase important needs for survival and they also had to store some of their money so that they could pay for more papers to sell the next day. These Newsboys needed to be very persuasive so that they could sell more papers. Therefore, if a Newsboy did not sell enough papers, then they would not be able to sell more papers the next day. Which meant they couldn't eat or get any of their important needs for their survival.
The Idea That Started It All:
What was a normal day for the people of New York City, or as they thought it would be, came with surprises. This was the day when everything changed. Pulitzer and Hearst got together and agreed that they wanted to earn more money. They threw out different ideas such as, cutting salaries of the people working in factories (which would mean to let people go), and even fire people whose jobs weren't that important. Until, they finally came to the idea of raising the taxes that the Newsboys pay for newspapers. They made it official and raised the prices on newspapers from 50 cents to 60 cents. The Newsboys could hardly pay for the newspapers at the price it already was. This was upsetting to say the least for the Newsboys! That's when the Newsies made a stand and went down in history as one of the most amazing strikes (that all started with kids) occurred.
In July of 1899, a huge group of Newsboys refused to sell newspapers that were published by Joseph Pulitzer (The New York World) and William Randolph Hearst (The New York Journal). The strike expanded across the Brooklyn Bridge for several days, which resulted in a large block in traffic. In addition, it ended the selling of newspapers that were published by Pulitzer and Hearst in most of the New England cities. Many rallies were hosted, and brought in more than 5,000 Newsboys across the city. All rallies included speeches, given by none other than the leader of the strike himself... Kid Blink. Kid Blink was the kid with an eye patch (was blind in one eye), and was also known from other newspapers in New York (such as the New York Tribune). The New York Tribune often patronized Blink when they quoted him because of his strong Brooklyn accent. Kid Blink and the Newsboys were sometimes violent when they needed to be. At times, Pulitzer and Hearst had to break up rallies and make sure that the newspaper deliveries were protected. Blink was famous for a saying that he told the strikers, he said, "Friens and feller workers. Dis is a time which tries de hearts of men. Dis is de time when we'se got to stick together like glue.... We know wot we wants and we'll git it even if we is blind."
Even though Pulitzer and Hearst did not lower the prices of their newspapers, they did agree to buy back any unsold papers. This resulted in the union of the Newsboys to depart. This event inspired many other strikes to occur in other parts of the country. For example, the Butte, Montana Newsboys Strike of 1914, and the 1920's Louisville, Kentucky Newsboys Strike. In addition, a few decades later, there was an introduction of an urban child-welfare practice that led to the improvement of the Newsboys' quality of life. In conclusion, this strike shows that no matter how old you are, what you look like, how popular you are, or where you come from, you can still make a big difference in the world if you just put your mind to it and make it happen!