by William C. Blizzard
Over half a century ago, William Blizzard wrote the story of Coal Miners in West Virginia. His father, the fearless Bill Blizzard was general of the Red Neck Army that marched toward Logan's Blair Mountain in 1921 and later led UMWA District 17 as the southern West Virginia coalfields were organized.
Chronicling the West Virginia Mine Wars of the 1920s, this first-hand account of the coal miners' uprisings offers a new perspective on labor unrest during this time period. Complete with previously unpublished family photographs and documents, this retelling shares the experiences of Bill Blizzard, the author's father who was the leader of the Red Neck Army. The tensions between the union and the coal companies that led up to the famous Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest open and armed rebellion in United States history, are described in detail, as are its aftermath and legacy. Addressing labor issues in contemporary times, this historical narrative makes clear the human costs of extracting coal for electricity.
"An extraordinary account of a largely ignored but important event in the history of our nation." â€”Howard Zinn, author, A Peopleâ€™s History of the United States
"A national treasure, a recovered gem of American history that should be required reading today. Never has a book been timelier; never has William C. Blizzard's inside account of his legendary father's march to liberate the Appalachian coalfields from the abuses of King Coal been more relevant." â€”Jeff Biggers, author, The United States of Appalachia
"The placement of the Stickin' Tommy is one of several errors in the coal-related exhibits alleged by Harris, an author and state Labor History Association board member who was named last year's West Virginia History Hero for his work." â€”Gazette Mail (Charleston, WV)
"Current eventsâ€”notably the struggle for unions to remain relevant and empowered, and coal's role in the climate change crisisâ€”make these writings both relevant and remarkable. The book underscores, among other things, both how far we have come in terms of labor protections and rights, and how far we have fallen in terms of workers' ability and willingness to take great risks and militant action." â€”Kari Lydersen, editor, In These Times
"For the scholar and labor historian, When Miners March provides incredible insight into one of the most tumultuous times in our nation's labor history. For anyone who participates in any kind of labor force, the work illustrates how much we owe to the coalminers of Appalachia who lived, and often times died, to secure basic freedoms and rights for all workers in the United States." â€”Appalachian Heritage (October 2011)
"When Miners March is the sweeping and heavily documented account of the Mine Wars from the governor's mansion to coal tipples as portrayed by the son of Bill Blizzard, the leader of the Red Neck Army - all told as the miners saw it." â€”Appalachian Journal (January 2013)
About the authors:
William C. Blizzard was a third generation union agitator, a coal miner from WVâ€™s first family of labor, and a journalist.
Wess Harris is a former union coal miner and an activist and educator with Appalachian Community Services. He lives in Gay, West Virginia.