Thursday, January 28, 2016

PBS film details early 20th century battle between West Virginia coal miners and coal companies

PBS's popular American Experience program this week premiered the film "The Mine Wars," which examines the early 20th century clash between West Virginia coal miners and coal companies, states PBS. Events "included strikes, assassinations, marches and the largest civil insurrection in the United States since the Civil War." The film is based on James Green’s book, "The Devil is Here in These Hills: West Virginia’s Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom."

Led by Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, in 1902 West Virginia miners went on strike to protest poor working conditions, states PBS. "Thousands of men, women and children ended up in makeshift 'tent colonies' set up by the UMWA on small strips of land not owned by the coal companies. These tent colonies included a trash dump, sanitary ditches and cellars for storage and shelter. Water often had to be imported in barrels on wagons. With no running water or permanent homes and no income to support their families, many miners returned to work, and the strike was broken." The film is available to watch online. Check local listings for repeat airings. (Read more)

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