This movie series, now available for free online from Films For Action, begins with what company towns were like in mining centers such as those in West Virginia 100 years ago.
“The American coal industry was only half a century old, yet had already killed and crippled more men than during any battle of the Civil War.”
Unions organized these kinds of workplaces out of necessity; the workers there struggled not just for better wages, but even more importantly, safety practices that would mean many less men and boys — for this was the time of rampant child labor — dead or maimed for life.
While it begins with the West Virginia Mine Wars, it’s just the beginning of the tale this movie lays out, largely within the framework of how the ruling class has divided us in history.
Always illustrating the nature of class warfare throughout our country’s history, and especially the tools — such as paid thugs and even the National Guard — that the ruling class used to repress and crush worker rebellions, it's worth noting what we've come through so we can understand what kinds of battles we might have to wage again very soon just to survive.
Several well-known movements that make the tapestry our our collective history are featured in the first of this series, which focuses on the 1800s and early 1900s, all the way up to the Haymarket massacre and subsequent murders of the anarchists and union activists involved. Also featured are attacks on various immigrant groups such as Chinese people who came to the United States for work, were fully exploited, then expelled from the country.
There are four parts to this series. The next, “Solidarity Forever,” covers the late 19th century to the early 1920s.
Look for that one here soon.