Deadly 1921 Coal Miner Revolt in West Virginia Remembered

Source: Associated Press

September 7, 2021

Fed up with the deadly work and poor wages and living conditions, thousands of coal miners marched to unionize in West Virginia a century ago, resulting in a deadly clash and the largest U.S. armed uprising since the Civil War.

On Friday, some of their descendants joined others in retracing the steps that led to the 12-day Battle of Blair Mountain. Multiple events are planned looking back at the fight, highlighted by the 45-mile (72-kilometer) march over three days.

“Every step you take, you just think about what kind of courage that took,” said United Mine Workers international President Cecil Roberts, whose great-uncle, Bill Blizzard, was a leader of the 1921 march as a union subdistrict state organizer.

The miners — whites, Blacks, and European immigrants — banded together, bent on doing something about their treatment by coal operators. They became known as the “Red Neck Army” for the distinctive bandanas around their necks.

Written by: John Raby