According to the Library of Congress, these children were protesting against child labor while marching in a labor parade. The photo was taken on May 1, 1909, most likely in New York City. One girl’s banner is written in Yiddish, the other in English. Both are holding American flags.
Look at their eyes; their slight, sweet smiles.
This was 1909. Real and lasting change in child labor practices would not be realized for twenty-nine more years. That was when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
Original Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress. Adjustments by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto ’09 & Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Mac.