AUGUST 22, 2019
[CHARLESTON, W.VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts and International Secretary-Treasurer Levi Allen will walk from Marmet, W.Va., to Racine, W.Va. the morning of September 2, 2019 – Labor Day – in the kick-off event of the UMWA’s two-year remembrance of the 1921 March and Battle of Blair Mountain.
“Blair Mountain was the largest armed insurrection in the history of the United States, other than the Civil War,” Roberts said. “Yet few know that it happened, even right here in West Virginia. We have an obligation to our ancestors who participated in that epic struggle for mine workers’ freedom to never let their sacrifices be forgotten.”
More than 12,000 union miners took up arms on August 24, 1921 and marched under the leadership of Bill Blizzard, Cecil Roberts’ great-uncle, from Marmet through Racine and toward the largely nonunion strongholds of Logan and Mingo Counties, ready to seek retribution for the murders of UMWA supporters Sid Hatfield and Ed Chambers in Welch. They were met at Blair Mountain, which is the dividing line between Boone and Logan Counties, by men under the command of Logan County Sherriff Don Chafin, who had organized his private army at the bidding of the nonunion coal companies.
After a five-day battle with many casualties, U.S. Army troops arrived in the area to break up the fighting. With many of the miners being World War I veterans and not wanting to fire upon their own nation’s troops, the miners laid down their arms and dispersed.
Roberts and Allen will be joined on the eleven-mile walk by West Virginia Delegate Mike Caputo (D-Marion) and a small group of others. After they arrive in Racine they will participate in the UMWA’s annual Labor Day Picnic at John Slack Park.
WHAT: Reenactment of the first segment of the Blair Mountain March
WHEN: Monday, September 2, 2019 (Labor Day) 7:00 am to noon
WHERE: State Route 94, Marmet to Racine, W. Va.
WHO: UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts, UMWA International Secretary-Treasurer Levi Allen