“One coal operator quite explicitly said that you need a judicious mixture of white mountaineers, black workers from the Jim Crow south, and immigrant workers in order to maintain division. So the effort was very intentional to divide workers along the lines of immigration status, language, and race..”
Barbara Ellen Smith, Professor Emerita of Virginia Tech
Board member of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum
The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum is at the site of a historic battle which erupted in May of 1920, setting into motion a chain of events that led to the largest armed uprising in the United States since the civil war, and offers the largest exhibition of Mine Wars history anywhere in the United States.
It is a people's history museum based in Matewan, WV, where they tell the story of the deadly, decades-long labor struggle between coal miners seeking unionization and the powerful industrialists who opposed them in the early 20th century.
The museum seeks to ensure this history doesn’t miss another generation, but will instead inspire new ones. You can stay connected and keep up-to-date on Museum happenings on their social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) or their e-newsletter (sign up for updates here).
Learn more about the museum, become a member, and plan a visit: https://wvminewars.org
Barbara Ellen Smith is an American author, activist, and educator. In 2017 she was named professor emerita of Virginia Tech. Barbara is known for her involvement and writing about social justice in Appalachia, particularly the black lung movement and advocacy for coal miners. Barbara is also a board member of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum and Chair of the Museum Fundraising Committee.
About the Labor Solidarity Podcast
The Labor Solidarity Podcast highlights the work of labor leaders, organizers, and labor journalists while discussing historic struggles and the importance of organizing with the goal of building international labor solidarity. Learn more at: https://www.empathymedialab.com/laborsolidarity
The Labor Solidarity Podcast is an EMLab production and we are a proud member of The Labor Radio Podcast Network. All links: https://wlo.link/@empathymedialab