Mother Jones….. US National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mother Jones…..National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mary “Mother Jones” photographed in 1901

On September 14, 2019 Mother Jones was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado.

According to its website….

“The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is a monument to the memory of the men and women who pioneered the discovery, development, and processing of our nation’s natural resources. Our mission is to “tell the story of mining, its people, its importance to the American public, and to society’s sustainability.”  Known as the “Smithsonian of the Rockies” and the “Premier Showcase of American Mining” the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum houses 25,000 square feet of interactive and informative exhibits sharing the evolving narrative of mining and its relationship to our everyday lives.”

Mother Jones is Inductee 248.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum at Leadville, Colorado, USA

Her induction citation read as follows;

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is one of the most famous labor activists in the cause of economic justice. Her battle cry, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” truly said it all.  Her powerful speeches and knack for theatrics encouraged many to form unions and strike for fair wages and safe working conditions. Known as the “Miner’s Angel” for her advocacy on their behalf, Mother Jones’s activism set the stage for the labor and safety laws we all benefit from today. A champion of the working class, she organized numerous miners’ strikes against low pay, 12-hour days, 7-day work weeks, extreme mortality rates, and child labor, and railed against the servitude of company stores and company housing.  When she began organizing for the United Mine Workers Union in the 1890s, it had 10,000 members; within a few years, 300,000 men had joined.  Hearing Jones speak, you discovered the secret of her influence – she had force, she had wit, and above all she had the fire of indignation. Mother Jones’s impassioned work is recognized in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, U.S. Department of Labor’s Hall of Honors, and the Irish American Hall of Fame. 

The historian and sociologist James Loewen (Author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your High School History Textbook Got Wrong) criticised the National Mining Hall of Fame a few years ago for inducting mostly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant men, who were disproportionately engineers, executives and wealthy mine owners. Where were the miners, Loewen asked, where the immigrants and workers of colour, the labour organisers, the women.  Why was there no commemoration to the thousands who died in the mines?

Mother Jones biographer Prof Elliot Gorn at last year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork, Ireland

Elliott Gorn, author of Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, who spoke at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork in 2019 stated

 

The Mining Hall of Fame has become a bit more inclusive in recent years, a little more attuned to worker exploitation, safety and environmental issues.  Hopefully, the inclusion of Mother Jones signals that the Hall of Fame will continue to pay more attention to the issues she long agitated about.”

Mother Jones in the minefields of West Virginia

“Mother Jones in the Minefields of West Virginia: An American Adventure Story”

 

Prof. Jim Green

Prof. Jim Green

The 2014 Cork Mother Jones Lecture will be presented by Professor James Green of the University of Massachussets, Boston. The lecture will take place at 7.30 at the Firkin Crane Centre in Shandon on Tuesday 29th July.

James Green was inspired by John F Kennedy’s speech calling racial inequality a “moral issue”, he was stunned by the assassination of Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers that same night. Moved by Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” in August 1963 and devastated by Kennedy’s assassination in November.

 

He worked as an intern in the office of Illinois Senator Paul H Douglas for two summers in 1965 and 1966 and met Senator Eugene McCarthy, whose Presidential primary campaign he joined in 1968. Later he met Senator George McGovern, who had earned a PhD in labour history from Northwestern University.

“All three men played roles in public life I admired”

Jim studied for his own PhD in history with C. Vann Woodward at Yale and became fascinated with the history of radicalism and political protest in the United States.

“My purpose was to study the past to understand injustice in our society-and then to explain how men and women who suffered from injustice gained the will to struggle against it and to strive for a better society”

Jim has worked to fight against injustice and worked for a better society for almost half a century!

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is very honoured to have Professor James Green deliver the third annual Cork Mother Jones Lecture at the Firkin Crane on Tuesday 29th July at 7.30pm.

 

 

 

From Allihies to Butte, Montana

Allihies mine pic Nigel Cox

Main engine house at the Mountain Mine at Allihies, built 1862. Photo (c) Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons licence

 

Tadhg O’Sullivan, Vice chairperson of the Allihies Copper Mine Museum will speak of the tradition of mining at the old Allihies Copper mines and the exodus of the miners in search of similar work to the town of Butte, Montana. Tadhg will speak at 4.15pm on Thursday 31st July at the Firkin Crane Centre in Shandon.

 

For most of the 19th Century, Allihies was a bustling mining town, with everything one would associate with such towns, money, vice, corruption, disease, crime and so on.  It had turned from a sleepy rural backwater to a centre of industry in 1812 and for over seventy years this mining venture continued, with an influx of Cornish miners along with many local workers at different levels of intensity, until the operation was wound down finally in 1884.

 

From around 1865 onwards the Allihies mining community had started to emigrate mainly to Montana and a town called Butte high in the Rocky Mountains.  Butte was beginning to experience the boom times that Allihies had experienced seventy years earlier and the miners and their families followed the work and the money.  It was approximately a 6000 mile journey, a journey many didn’t survive.  But those who did made their mark in this North-West corner of the United States and became the main players and the biggest community in what was one of the richest mining stories ever.

 

Butte today has a population of around 30,000 down from its height of 60,000 in the 1920s when it was one of the largest and most notorious copper boomtowns in America. The rush for riches also saw the growth of trade unionism epitomised by the founding of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) in 1893 and by the large support enjoyed by the Wobblies (the Industrial Workers of the World) in the town. In many ways Butte became a microcosm of the labour/capital wars of the late 1800/early 1900s and which culminated in the murder of union organiser Frank Little of the IWW in Butte in 1917. The town was later the scene of the Anaconda Road massacre in 1920.

 

The main protagonists were Marcus Daly’s Anaconda Copper Mining Company and the militant Western Federation of Miners, William “Big Bill” Haywood, Charles Moyer and Mother Jones trod the streets of Butte in defence of the miners, many of whom were Irish and some from her very own county. The WFM were a radical union and were to forefront of many strikes, and the campaign for an 8-hour day. Their activities caused some friction with the longer established United Mine Workers of America and attracted the attention of the Federal authorities.

 

Indeed Mother Jones arrived by train from Butte, where she had been organising strikes for better working conditions to West Virginia/Colorado in 1912 at the outbreak of the coal wars in the region (1912-1914). Although always associated with the UMW, Mother Jones maintained extremely cordial relations with the WFM and worked closely with both unions, as usual she just got on with organising workers.

 

Today Butte retains very strong Irish links and has a large St. Patrick’s Day parade. Allihies has constructed a beautiful museum in the old Methodist Church, originally built in 1845 for the Cornish copper miners who arrived in Allihies before the famine. The community run enterprise also has an Allihies Copper Mine Trail. www.acmm.ie

The Spirit of Mother Jones festival 2014 will try to ensure that the story of Mary Harris/Mother Jones from Cork city is again reconnected through the rich and complex tapestry of history to her links with the West Cork copper miners of Allihies and Butte, Montana. All are welcome to attend. The event forms part of the Miners’ Day at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school with speakers films and music from the USA, the UK, Greece and Ireland.

 

Interesting films at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2014

Film has beenfilm reel an important part of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival since the beginning.  This year we will be showing five films covering the struggles of  people in extraordinary situations in the fight for justice and rights.  All film showings are free of charge. All welcome.

Tuesday 29th July – Friday 1st August 2014 

Admission is free and all are welcome. Firkin Crane Centre Shandon 6.00: “Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman” a film by Rosemary Feurer and Laura Vazquez.     Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman is a documentary about the amazing labor heroine, Mary Harris Jones, known as Mother Jones. Mother Jones’ organising career influenced the history of early 20th century United States. She overcame class and gender limitations to shape an identity that allowed her to become an effective labor organizer in the early 20th century. Mother Jones transformed personal and political grief and rage about class injustices into an effective persona that led workers into battles that changed the course of history. The terrible conditions and labor oppression of the time motivated her to traverse the country, in order to organise against injustices.

Release Date: May 2007 (Canada)Runtime: 24 min

Thursday: 31st July  

(Firkin Crane Centre downstairs)   11am:              Film: The Battle for Orgreave, (A film by Yvette Vanson, Producer/Director. www.yvettevanson).   In this film we witness the violent struggle of miners trying to save their jobs in what became one of the biggest public disturbances Britain has ever seen. The camera focuses on the blood covered face of an angry protester, he looks defiant as he is led away by riot police. This is no criminal but a man trying to protect his livelihood. 55 miners faced long prison terms because of their involvement in the disturbance at Orgreave. This film looks at their fight for justice. Orgreave in the North of England was the focal point for a mass protest by miners in June 1984. At this time miners were angry over proposed pit closures and reacted by striking and pressurising other pits to close. The culmination of these protests was a mass gathering of miners from all over the country at Orgreave. On the morning of 18th June miners were escorted into Orgreave. At this point police tactics already resembled a military campaign. After a push by the miners the police acted with force charging the pickets on horses. The protest soon turned violent with the police using heavy-handed tactics such as dogs and batons in an attempt to suppress the riot. In this film we interview defendants about their experiences of being at Orgreave and the tactics used by police.

Release Date: 1985   Runtime: 52 min   5.30 pm     

 

“Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre” a film from Greece by Lamprini    Thoma and Nickos Ventouras. (Irish Premier)   The Ludlow Massacre and the assassination of Greek immigrant and labor leader Louis Tikas (Elias Spantidakis) is one of the decisive moments of the American labor movement, an event that connects, a century later, the United States of 1914 to the labor and immigrant demands of Greece of 2014. Lamprini Thoma and Nikolaos Ventouras examined the memories, the history and the legacy of Louis Tikas and the Ludlow massacre in Colorado, talked with prominent historians, artists and descendants of Ludlow miners, and documented the scars left by this tragedy on the body of working America. Release Date: 2014 Runtime: 92 min http://www.palikari.org/

Friday 1st August. Mother Jones Day. 

(Firkin Crane Centre downstairs)   11am:        The extraordinary life and death of Tadhg Barry from Blarney St.         (Frameworks Films) with Trevor Quinn SIPTU, Jack O’Sullivan CCTU.   This documentary tells the story of Tadhg Barry (1880-1921), a native of Cork city, who has largely been forgotten. It seems hard to believe that a man whose funeral closed shops and factories could be relegated to a footnote in history. And yet this is what has happened to a man who was one of the last people to be killed by British forces during Ireland’s War of Independence, just weeks prior to the signing of the Treaty.

Release Date: 2013

Tadhg Barry Remembered has been produced by Frameworks Films in collaboration with the Cork Council of Trade Unions for broadcast on Cork Community Television. It was first broadcast on Cork Community Television on Sunday 5th May at 8pm. The documentary was funded under the Sound & Vision scheme, an initiative of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

8.00 pm:   “Mother Jones and her Children”.  (Firkin Crane upstairs.) Documentary Premiere by Frameworks Films. Release Date: 2014

The Battle for Orgreave – 30 years on

Orgreave Festival poster 2014

Orgreave Festival poster 2014

Paul Winter of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Committee (OTJC) will speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday morning 30th July 2014 at 12 noon at the Firkin Crane, where as an eye witness he will describe the events of 30 years ago at the Orgreave Coking works during the British Miners Strike.

Paul’s account of his experiences will be preceded by the classic film The Battle for Orgreave by Journeyman Pictures and shown with the kind permission of producer/director Yvette Vanson. 

Paul Winter

Paul Winter

The Battle for Orgreave was a major event during the British Miners strike. Orgreave was the site of a Coking Works in the North of England which had been subject to picketing in an effort to bring production to a halt during the strike. It then became a focal point of the miners’ anger on the morning of 18th June 1984 when a mass gathering of pickets from all over Britain converged on Orgreave.

The events of that day have left a lasting legacy of bitterness all across mining communities ever since. Organisations such as the Orgreave Truth and Justice Committee (OTJC) have continued to campaign for the full story of Orgreave to be told. What happened at Orgreave, and the scenes of brutality involving a full scale charge on horseback on the miners by the police gave rise to some of the most horrifying images of violence ever seen in an industrial dispute anywhere!

While Mother Jones in her day would have experienced extreme violence against miners, the scenes at Orgreave were reminiscent of the violence perpetrated on the ordinary workers of Dublin during the infamous 1913 Lockout.

The events of the day formed an essential element of the efforts by the Thatcher government to defeat the miners by any means whatever. The use of the police in this manner by Margaret Thatcher ensured that the events would never be investigated and like the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, the payback was made by official cover ups and lies.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is extremely grateful to have received permission from Yvette Vanson, the Producer/Director of the film “The Battle For Orgreave” to permit a showing of the film at the Spirit of Mother Jones festival. This was first shown on Channel 4.

This will be followed with a talk by Paul Winter of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Committee. Paul is an ex miner from Barnsley who worked in the mining industry from 1980 to 1993 and was present at the Battle For Orgreave. Paul will describe the events of the day and will discuss the impact of the miners strike on his small but proud and passionate community. An understanding of the sometimes ignored events at Orgreave on that morning in June 1984 is essential to understanding the wider anger and raw feelings of injustice in the mining communities which remain to this very day!