Harlan Baker will appear as Jimmy Higgins in a one man show he has written,”Jimmy Higgins: A Life in the Labor Movement”, April 28th at the St. Lawrence Arts and Community Center in Portland, Maine. Baker is a teacher, an actor, a former member of the Maine legislature, a union activist, and democratic socialist leader. “Jimmy Higgins” has long stood for the name of the rank-and-file union and socialist activist.
On the eve of the 1960 president race a rank and file union activist is being interviewed by a college student about his life. Higgins recounts his days as a newspaper boy in Sandusky Ohio during the first World War, his meeting with Eugene Debs and other radicals opposed to American participation in the First World War, his experiences in Robert LaFollette Sr. run for president in 1924 and his experience covering the union organizing drives of tenant farmers and auto workers in the 1930s.
The play is directed by Christopher Price and Will have its premier performance April
28th 7:30 at The St. Lawrence Arts and Community Center.
April 28th is also Workers memorial Day and the performance is sponsored by the Southern Maine Labor Council, the Maine Stage Employees Association, and The West End News.
Subsequent performances will be at The Meg Perry Center in Portland May 30th and The Theater Project in Brunswick the first weekend in June.
He joined the Young Peoples Socialist League in 1971 and later helped to found the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee serving on it’s national board. DSOC and Democratic Socialists of America were chaired by author and social activist Michael Harrington until his death in 1989.
Baker served in the Maine legislature from 1979 to 1988 representing art of the city of Portland. He spent four years as a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor.
Among some of the legislation he proposed which became law was collective bargaining rights for county employees and a bill to divest state pension monies from firms doing business in South Africa when itas under apartheid.
He has been teaching speech and theater for the past twenty years at the University of Southern Maine, and taught speech and taught speech and theater at the University of New England from 1987 to 2004 cconcurrently with his work at USM.
He is currently the president of the board of directors for Acorn Productions and was board president of the Oak Street Theater in Portland till it closed in 2000.
He is a member of the Actors Equity Association and has appeared with several regional theaters including the Portland Stage Company, Theater at Monmouth, Mt. Holyoke Summer Theater, New Century Theater and the Stage at Spring Point.