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Review :: Labor
Taking a Stand Against Injustice: a Historical Account
by richard myers
11 Nov 2005
Slaughter in Serene: the Columbine Coal Strike Reader tells the history of Colorado working folk taking a stand against economic injustice
Howard Zinn, renowned author of A People's History of the United States read the manuscript and declared, "Thanks so much for this. It is an education for me!"
Do you know that Colorado was once the most militantly unionized state in the country?
That there were two Columbine Massacres?
That the first of these (78th anniversary on November 21st) was perpetrated by the state police?
That groups of unarmed women were considered so dangerous they were confronted with shotguns, machineguns and bayonets?
Read about Flaming Milka and her sister Santa, who engaged burly mine guards in fistfights. Discover why the state of Colorado strafed striking miners with bomber aircraft, and why the police mounted machineguns at the Columbine mine. Find out why the Walsen Mine deployed cannons and issued shoot to kill orders to their guards. Learn why all the strike organizers that the police could catch were arrested on charges such as vagrancy!
All of this, yet the strikers were armed only with their courage and their audacity! Well, they had something more: a dream about economic justice-- a dream that terrified their employers.
These workers were not just any strikers. They were Colorado coal miners, men who descended on a rickety cage into the dark maw of hell every work day of their lives. They worked with blasting powder; they fought with stubborn coal car mules. They waded through black water floods; they chiseled a living from the depths. How can you intimidate a man who faces death daily?
And the strikers had another surprise, another front that could not be intimidated. As the men were arrested, deported, or "white-capped," the women of the 1920s coal camps took active, and in some cases critical leadership roles to continue the fight.
Slaughter in Serene: the Columbine Coal Strike Reader uncovers a history that had nearly been forgotten. It is a history of triumph and tragedy, of working class dreams and rapacious capitalism.
This was the first strike in which Colorado miners achieved some measure of success. This was the last strike in which the state militia played their nefarious role. Sadly, it was just one of a number of strikes in which miners and their families confronted violence perpetrated by the state.
This book is about an unknown chapter of Colorado history. I co-edited and helped to write it, along with Professor Eric Margolis, and historians Joanna Sampson and Phil Goodstein.
Slaughter in Serene: the Columbine Coal Strike Reader is now available online.
The Rocky Mountain News has reviewed Slaughter in Serene:
For more information:
Bread and RosesWorkers' Cultural Center, c/o P&L Printing, 2298 Clay St., Denver 80211, or call 303-433-1852, or email breadandroses (at) msn.com
Note: proceeds from sale of Slaughter in Serene benefit the Workers Cultural Center in Denver, Colorado. This is not a commercial appeal.
This work is in the public domain