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Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century

Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century

by Howard Zinn, Kelley Robin D. G., Dana Frank

Three renowned historians present stirring tales of labor: Howard Zinn tells the grim tale of the Ludlow Massacre, a drama of beleaguered immigrant workers, Mother Jones, and the politics of corporate power in the age of the robber barons. Dana Frank brings to light the little-known story of a successful sit-in conducted by the "counter girls" at the Detroit


Three renowned historians present stirring tales of labor: Howard Zinn tells the grim tale of the Ludlow Massacre, a drama of beleaguered immigrant workers, Mother Jones, and the politics of corporate power in the age of the robber barons. Dana Frank brings to light the little-known story of a successful sit-in conducted by the "counter girls" at the Detroit Woolworth's during the Great Depression. Robin D. G. Kelley's story of a movie theater musicians' strike in New York asks what defines work in times of changing technology.

"Three Strikes brings to life the heroic men and women who put their jobs, bodies, and lives on the line to win a better life for all working Americans. Zinn, Frank, and Kelley show us that while the country and the union movement have changed greatly in the last hundred years, our struggle to close the divide between rich and poor remains the same." —John Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO

"Provocative analysis of still relevant issues, as the passionate, sometimes violent demonstrations at international meetings of the global economy demonstrate." —Mary Carroll, Booklist

"Highly readable, well-researched narratives of dramatic action" —Leon Fink, Chicago Tribune

Howard Zinn is a teacher, historian, and social activist, and the author of many books, including the best-selling A People's History of the United States and You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (Beacon / 7127-7 / $13.00 pb). He lives near Boston. Dana Frank, professor of American studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is author of the awardwinning Buy American (Beacon / 4711-2 / $17.50 pb). Robin D. G. Kelley, professor of history at New York University, is author of Race Rebels, Yo' Mama's Disfunktional! (Beacon / 0941-5 / $14.00 pb), and Freedom Dreams (Beacon / 0976-8 / $24.00 cl).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Zinn (A People's History of the United States), Frank (Purchasing Power) and Kelley (Yo' Mama's Disfunktional!) each write compellingly about a significant early 20th-century strike, including historical background and reflections on consequences. Zinn depicts the bloody Colorado Coal Strike of 1913-1914 including the notorious Ludlow Massacre, in which National Guard troops killed two women and 11 children pitting an immigrant workforce against John D. Rockefeller II. The strike was lost, but its memory inspired countless later victories. Frank describes the Detroit Woolworth's Strike of 1937 (begun 16 days after the Flint Sitdown Strike ended), in which 108 "working girls," many younger than 18, brought the Wal-Mart of its time to its knees in just seven days, sparking a wave of successful strikes and unionization in department stores across the nation. The strikers adeptly manipulated conventionally demeaning media stereotypes of girlhood frivolity and na?vet? to protect themselves and woo support. Kelley describes a strike that fizzled the New York Musicians Strike of 1936-1937, an attempt to return live musicians to movie theaters. Although it was barely noticed even when it occurred, the challenges involved recognizing creative artists as workers, retaining control as new technologies empower owners, building solidarity and resolving conflicts between artist and audience interests are more important than ever in today's global entertainment industry. All three stories involve memorable characters, internal labor movement relations, threatened or actual state intervention against the strikers, media representations that profoundly influenced strike outcomes, and continuing efforts toreinvent the labor movement and reclaim the dignity of labor. (Sept. 3) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
A collection of three long essays which collectively examine the past in order to shed light on conflicts and issues that the labor movement faces today. Zinn (best known for his book examines the Colorado Coal Strike of 1913-14 and the strikers repression by the coal companies and the state which resulted in the infamous Ludlow Massacre. Frank (American studies, U. of California) tells the story of the female sit-down strikers who occupied the large chain store Woolworth's during the Great Depression. Finally, the failed effort of movie house musicians to fight the loss of their jobs due to the introduction of the new technology of the "talkies" is explored by Kelley (history, NYU), who emphasizes the contradictions when the interests of one working class group are countered by the consumption wants of a larger group of the working class. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
Top-drawer narrative histories of two important strikes, and a more amorphous consideration of musicians' rights to their work, from three progressive historians. Zinn (The Future of History, 1999, etc.) tackles the Colorado coal strike of 1913-14, during which 11 children and 2 women were found burned to death under tents set ablaze by National Guardsmen in a notorious incident known as the Ludlow Massacre. Zinn is a fine storyteller, keeping the tone low but passionate as he makes plain as day the many evils of John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s coal operation, a veritable fiefdom unto itself, keeping workers in its harness from cradle to grave. He also does a good job highlighting how the New York Times acted in collusion with the coal operators as part of a larger cultural air-brushing of dramatic and violent labor events into oblivion. Frank (American Studies/UC Santa Cruz; Buy American, 1999) displays a jazzier style as he recreates the Woolworth's sit-down strike of 1937 in Detroit. ("Woolworth's was a palace built for working-class people. The big fluted columns were made of concrete, not marble, then painted shiny bright colors.") He too stands foursquare behind the strikers: young white women, poorly paid in dead-end jobs, caught in the revolving door of unskilled work. The radical Waiters' and Waitresses' Union of Detroit capitalized on the canny tactic of the sit-down strike, which kept owners from locking out workers and hiring scabs, and the women managed to subvert journalists' preoccupation with their sex. Kelley (History/NYU; Race Rebels, 1994) tries to get a sense of musicians' rights through the unsuccessful American Federation of Musicians strike against theater owners in1936. The topic is unwieldy, as can be seen when looking at today's controversies Napster and MP3, and Kelley's broader question-voiced, not answered-is "what happens when working-class consumption of popular culture overrides the interests or concerns of popular culture workers?" Important material out of the shadows to which so much labor history is exiled.

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Chapter One

ON APRIL 21, 1914, in the quiet afternoon, a telephone linesmanwas making his way through the charred ruins of a miners' tent colonyin southern Colorado. He lifted an iron cot covering a pit underone of the tents, and there he found the blackened, swollen bodiesof eleven children and two women. The news was flashed swiftly tothe world. The tragedy was given a name: the Ludlow Massacre.

    Some Americans know about the Ludlow Massacre, though itdoes not appear in most of the history texts used in our schools andcolleges. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about it, a dark, broodingsong. But few know that the Ludlow Massacre was the central eventin a fourteen-month strike of coal miners that took a toll of at leastsixty-six lives—a strike which is one of the most dramatic and violentevents in the history of this country.

    Two governmental committees subsequently recorded over fivethousand pages of firsthand testimony by participants in the Coloradocoal strike. Thousands of newspaper stories and hundreds ofmagazine articles dealt with the conflict. Some of the most fascinatingfigures in American history were involved in some wayin that event: Mother Jones and Eugene Debs, Woodrow Wilson,John D. Rockefeller and Ivy Lee, Upton Sinclair and John Reed.

    Yet that story has been buried, in the way that labor struggles ingeneral have been omitted or given brief mention in most mainstreamaccounts of the history of the United States. It deserves tobe recalled, because embedded in the events of the Colorado strikeare issues still alive today: the class struggle between ownersoflarge enterprises and their workers, the special treatment of immigrantworkers, the relationship between economic power and politicalpower, the role of the press, and the way in which the culturecensors out certain historical events.

The Colorado strike took place in a physical setting of vast proportionsand staggering beauty. Down the center of the rectangle thatis Colorado, from north to south, march an array of huge, breathtakingmountains—the Rockies—whose naked cliffs merge, on theireastern edge, with low hills covered with cedar and yellow pine. Tothe east of that is the plain—really a mile-high plateau—a tawnyexpanse of pasture grass sprinkled with prairie flowers in the springand summer, and gleaming here and there with yellow-blossomedcactus.

    Beneath the tremendous weight of the Rockies, in the course ofcountless centuries, decaying vegetation gradually mineralizedinto the black rock known as coal. The constantly increasing proportionof carbon in this rock transformed it from vegetable matter topeat, then to lignite and bituminous coal, and finally to anthracite.

    Three great coalfields, consisting chiefly of bituminous coal,were formed in Colorado. One of them was contained within twocounties in southern Colorado, Las Animas and Huerfano counties,just east of the mountains. This field was made up of aboutforty discontinuous seams, ranging from a few inches to fourteenfeet thick. These seams were from two hundred and fifty to aboutfive hundred feet deep.

    The mining of these fields became possible on a large scale onlyin the 1870s, when the railroads moving west from Kansas City,south from Denver, and north from New Mexico, converged on theregion. At about this time, settlers moving down the old Santa Fetrail built a town on the banks of the Purgatory River (el Rio de lasAnimas Perdidas Purgatorio—the river of lost souls), just east ofthe Sangre de Cristo (blood of Christ) mountains and about fifteenmiles north of the New Mexican border.

    The town was called Trinidad, and it became the center of thesouthern mining area. By 1913 it had about ten thousand people—miners,ranchers, farmers, and businessmen. From the main highwaysand railroad lines leading north out of Trinidad, branch railwaysand old wagon roads cut sharply west into the foothills of themountains, into the steep-walled canyons where the mining campslay. Scattered in these narrow canyons, on the flat bands of earthrunning along the canyon bottoms, were the huts of the miners, themine buildings, and the mine entries.

    It was a shocking contrast: the wild beauty of the Coloradocountryside against the unspeakable squalor of these miningcamps. The miners' huts, usually shared by several families, weremade of clapboard walls and thin-planked floors, with leaking roofs,sagging doors, broken windows, and layers of old newspapers nailedto the walls to keep out the cold. Some families, particularly Negrofamilies, were forced to live in tiny squares not much bigger thanchicken coops.

    Within sight of the huts were the coke ovens and the mine tipple,where coal was emptied from the cars that carried it to the surface.Thick clouds of soot clogged the air and settled on the ground,strangling any shoots of grass or flowers that tried to grow there.Wriggling along the canyon wall, behind the huts, was a now sluggishcreek, dirty yellow and laden with the slag of the mine and therefuse of the camp. Alongside the creek the children played, barefoot,ragged, and often hungry.

    Each mining camp was a feudal dominion, with the companyacting as lord and master. Every camp had a marshal, a law enforcementofficer paid by the company. The "laws" were the company'srules. Curfews were imposed, "suspicious" strangers were not allowedto visit the homes, the company store had a monopoly ongoods sold in the camp. The doctor was a company doctor, theschoolteachers hired by the company.

    In the early dawn, cages carried the men down into the blacknessof the mine. There was usually a main tunnel, with dozens ofbranch tunnels leading into the "rooms," held up by timbers, wherethe miners hacked away at the face of the coal seam with hand picksand their helpers shoveled the coal into waiting railroad cars. Theloaded cars were drawn along their tracks by mules to the mainshaft, where they were lifted to the surface, and then to the top ofthe tipple, and then the coal showered down through the sortingscreens into flatcars.

    Since the average coal seam was about three feet high, the minerswould often work on their knees or on their sides, never able tostraighten up. The ventilation system was a crude affair that dependedon the manipulation of tunnel doors by "trapper boys"—oftenthirteen or fourteen years old—who were being initiated intothe work.

The first to labor in the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company's mineswere Welshmen and Englishmen who had gained their experiencein their mother countries. But with the great waves of immigrationfrom southern Europe in the 1880s and 1890s, these were joinedby Italians, Greeks, Poles, Hungarians, Montenegrins, and Serbs.There was also a large proportion of Mexicans and Negroes.

    It was a man in charge of the "Sociological Department" of ColoradoFuel & Iron who described the mine bosses and camp officialsthis way: "At the bottom of the pit with pick and shovel theminer frequently found a grafting pit boss on his back. The camp superintendentsas a whole impress me as most uncouth, ignorant,immoral, and in many instances the most brutal set of men that wehave ever met. Blasphemous bullies."

    Political power in Colorado rested in the hands of those whoheld economic power. This meant that the authority of ColoradoFuel & Iron and the other mine operators was virtually supreme. Aletter from company manager L. M. Bowers to the secretary of JohnD. Rockefeller Jr., written in May of 1913, describes the situation:

The Colorado Fuel & Iron Company for many years was accused of being the political dictator of southern Colorado, and in fact was a mighty power in the whole state. When I came here it was said that the C. F. & I. voted every man and woman in their employ without any regard to their being naturalized or not; and even their mules, it used to be remarked, were registered, if they were fortunate enough to possess names.... The company became notorious in many sections for their support of the liquor interests. They established saloons everywhere they possibly could.... A sheriff, elected by the votes of the C. F. & I. Co. employees ... established himself or became a partner in sixteen liquor stores in our coal mines.

    The Colorado attorney general who conducted an investigationin Huerfano County in the fall of 1913, on the eve of the strike, said,"I found a very perfect political machine, just as much a machine asTammany in New York." Another letter, from Superintendent Bowersto Rockefeller shortly after the strike began, describes the cooperationof the bankers and the governor against the strike, andrefers to Governor Ammons (a Democrat and a supporter of PresidentWoodrow Wilson) as "our little cowboy governor."

    Colorado's deputy labor commissioner, Edwin Brake, later testifiedbefore the House Mines and Mining subcommittee that investigatedthe strike, "It's very seldom you can convict anyone in HuerfanoCounty if he's got any friends. Jeff Farr, the sheriff, selects thejury and they're picked to convict or acquit as the case may be."

    A Reverend Atkinson, who interviewed Governor Ammons duringthe strike, asked the governor if there was constitutional law andgovernment in Colorado, to which Ammons replied, "Not a bit inthose counties where the coal mines are located."

    Company officials were appointed as election judges. Company-dominatedcoroners and judges prevented injured employees fromcollecting damages. Polling places were often on company property.J. C. Baldwin, gambler and bartender, was jury foreman in 80percent of the cases tried in his county.

    Much of the land on which these camps stood had been acquiredunder dubious circumstances under the provisions of the DesertLand Act, according to a report made in 1885 by the federal LandCommissioner.

    In 1902, John D. Rockefeller Sr. bought control of the ColoradoFuel & Iron Corporation, the largest steel and coal producer in theWest. The company produced 40 percent of the coal dug in Colorado.In 1911 he turned his interests in the corporation over to hisson, John D. Rockefeller Jr., who decided major policy questionsfrom his office at 26 Broadway in New York City. Actual managementwas handled in the Denver office of Jesse F. Welborn, chairmanof the board of directors. By 1914 the company owned all theland in twenty-seven camps, including the houses, the saloons, theschools, the churches, and any other buildings within the campenvirons.

    From the very beginnings of the coal mine industry in Colorado,there was conflict between workers and management: an unsuccessfulstrike in 1876 (the very year Colorado was admitted to theUnion), a successful strike in 1884 against a wage reduction. But theworkday was still ten hours long, and in 1894 a strike for the eight-hourday failed.

The United Mine Workers of America was formed in 1890, "tounite in one organization, regardless of creed, color, or nationality,all workmen ... employed in and around coal mines." The firstUnited Mine Workers local in Colorado was formed in 1900, andthree years later there was an eleven-month strike, broken bystrikebreakers and the National Guard. Some of those strikebreakersbecame the strikers of 1913.

    The top leadership of the U.M.W. was often criticized by moremilitant elements of the labor movement as being too conservative.And while it was the United Mine Workers who led the strike in1913-14, members of two other organizations were on the sceneand had varying degrees of influence over the miners. These werethe I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) and the SocialistParty, which had locals in Trinidad and other Colorado cities.

    The I.W.W. was formed in Chicago, in June of 1905, as a tradeunion organization with a revolutionary goal. "The working classand the employing class have nothing in common" was the first sentencein its preamble. It reached the peak of its power in the successfulLawrence, Massachusetts, textile strike of 1912. During theperiod 1910-13, some 60,000 workers held membership cards atvarious times, but the influence of the organization was far greaterthan its numbers. It was an incessant prod to the regular tradeunions for more militant action.

    Despite the fact that many miners voted either Progressive (forTheodore Roosevelt) or Socialist (for Eugene Debs) in the presidentialelection of 1912, most of the United Mine Workers leadership,including the union officials in Colorado, supported the DemocraticParty. The biographer of John Lawson, who represented theunion in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, wrote, "John Lawsonand his miners were naïve on the subject of politics. They invariably,regarded the Democratic Party as the champion of the downtrodden,a position that could not have been sustained had they had theexperience to draw obvious conclusions from the party's record inthe state."

    In December of 1912, Lawson reported to the national executiveboard of the union on the necessity of organizing the southernfield. Lawson and Frank Hayes, vice president of the union, set upheadquarters in Trinidad in early 1913. They asked Governor Ammonsto arrange a conference with the mine operators. The operatorsrefused. They would do nothing to indicate a recognition of theunion. Lawson and Hayes sent out a letter addressed to all minersin southern Colorado:

Greetings. This is the day of your emancipation. This is the day when liberty and progress come to abide in your midst. We call upon you this day to enroll as a member of the greatest and most powerful labor organization in the world, the United Mine Workers of America.

    Organizers worked quietly in pairs, one outside the mines, oneinside, and support for the union grew. Clandestine meetings wereheld in the countryside; picnics became an occasion for enlistingmembers. And on August 16, 1913, there took place the incidentthat heated the atmosphere dramatically and inexorably led to thestrike. This was the shooting of Gerald Lippiatt, a thirty-two-year-oldItalian-American organizer for the United Mine Workers, onthe street in Trinidad.

    There are many versions of what happened. The only details onwhich all witnesses agreed were that Lippiatt, who had just arrivedin town, had walked down Commercial Street on a busy, noisy Saturdaynight; that he had encountered George Belcher and WalterBelk, of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency and exchanged gunfirewith Belcher; that Lippiatt had gotten off a shot that woundedBelcher in the leg; and that eight shots were fired at Lippiatt, four ofwhich struck him. He died instantly.

     Belcher and Belk were released on $10,000 bond. A coroner'sjury was formed of six Trinidad businessmen: the manager of theWells-Fargo Express company, the cashier of the Trinidad NationalBank, the president of the Sherman-Cosmer Mercantile Company,the manager of the Columbia Hotel, the proprietor of a chainof mercantile stores, and John C. Baldwin, gambler and saloonkeeper, who acted as foreman.

    The jury was told by William Daselli, a miner, that he had witnessedthe shooting and had been the first to reach Lippiatt. Dasellisaid that Belk reached for his gun, Belcher pulled his gun and fired,and Lippiatt fell, then fired from the ground. The jury decided thatit was a case of justifiable homicide.

    Two days later, the scheduled convention of the State Federationof Labor took place in Trinidad. An empty chair, draped in black,represented Lippiatt, and feeling ran high against the Baldwin-FeltsAgency and against the mine operators, who had hired theagency in preparation for possible labor trouble.

    Frank Hayes, tall and powerfully built, with flaming red hair,and considered one of the few really militant officials of the UnitedMine Workers board, addressed the convention:

If the Colorado mine owners, who have no regard for the miners union, could stand at the mouth of his mine some day when the black and swollen bodies of scores of his workmen are brought to the surface, as happened at Primero and other places in this state, and could hear the agonized cries of some mother, wife or child piteously begging that their loves ones be saved ... they might then agree ... that the miners union is justified in its demand for recognition.

    On August 22 the delegates left the convention. Biding northwardwith them on the train was the coffin of Gerald Lippiatt. AtColorado Springs, Lippiatt was buried while a crowd of minersstood with heads bowed in the shadow of Pike's Peak and Lippiatt'sfiancée wept quietly.

    A letter from the U.M.W. policy committee was sent to fifty operatorsin southern Colorado asking for a conference. No replycame. Another letter invited the operators to a miners' conventionto be held in Trinidad in mid-September. Again no reply.

    Meanwhile, organizing was going on at a rapid rate. Miners fromall the coal canyons in southern Colorado were being signed up asunion members. Secret meetings were held in churches, at picnics,in abandoned workings hidden in the mountains. At hundreds ofmeetings, delegates were elected to represent the coal camps at theTrinidad convention.

    At the same time, the mine operators were not idle. The Baldwin-FeltsAgency began importing hundreds of men from the saloonsand barrel-houses of Denver, and from points outside thestate, to help break the impending strike. In Huerfano County, bythe first of September, 326 men had been deputized by Sheriff JeffFarr, all armed and paid by the coal companies.

    On Monday, September 15, 1913, there was a parade of minersthrough the streets of Trinidad, and then the largest labor conventionin Colorado history began its sessions. Two hundred and eightydelegates, representing every mine in Colorado as well as some inNew Mexico and Utah, sat in the great opera house and sweated inthe late summer heat.

    For two days the convention's Scale and Policy Committee listenedto the complaints of rank-and-file miners, who reported thatthey were being cheated to the tune of 400-800 pounds on each tonof coal; that the law allowing miners to elect checkweighmen oftheir own choice was being completely ignored; that they were paidin script worth ninety cents on the dollar (a violation of Coloradolaw); that the promise of an eight-hour day made by ColoradoFuel & Iron earlier that year had been ignored; that their wagescould only be spent in company stores and saloons, where priceswere from 25 to 40 percent higher; that they were forced to vote accordingto the wishes of the mine superintendent; that they werebeaten and discharged for voicing complaints; and that armedguards conducted a reign of terror that kept the miners in subjectionto the company.

    A set of demands was adopted: recognition of the union was key,followed by the eight-hour day, wage increases, pay for "dead work"(laying tracks, shoring up the roof, etc.), elected checkweighmen,free choice of stores, boarding houses, and doctors, and the abolitionof the guard system.

    The operators claimed that the miners earned $20 a week, butthe Colorado Bureau of Labor Statistics put their average takehomepay at $1.68 a day.

    Perhaps what aroused the miners to rebellion more than anythingwas the refusal of the mine operators to spend money to insurethe safety of the men as they worked hundreds of feet belowthe surface. There had been deadly explosions in the southern Coloradomines again and again. There were two primary causes formine disasters: rotten timbers holding up the roofs of the cavernswhere the miners dug their coal, and the accumulation of gas anddust in dry conditions under which the gas ignited easily.

    The Colorado Fuel & Iron Company's Primero mine was sprinkledonly when the dust became thick enough to prevent the passageof the mules. The miners had a saying that the operators would"rather kill a man than maim a mule." In 1907 an explosion at Primerohad killed twenty-four men; three years later another explosionhad killed seventy-nine. In response, Colorado Fuel & Iron officialL. M. Bowers said that such accidents "will happen and wehave to make the best of it.... Work will be resumed as soon as theminers get over the excitement."

    In 19l0 the Starkville mine, where the state labor commissionerhad previously reported a failure to sprinkle, suffered a frightful explosion.Forty miners were killed; rescuers were kept out of themine during daylight hours so as not to cause panic. A spokesmanfor Colorado Fuel & Iron insisted Starkville was nongaseous. Fourweeks later, a mine at Delagua, this one belonging to the Victor-Americancompany, also exploded, killing eighty-two.

    By the time the labor convention took place in Trinidad on September15, 1913, the grievances had accumulated. When MotherJones dramatically appeared to address the delegates, they wereready to be aroused.

Mary Jones, whom the miners came to call Mother, was born MaryHarris in Ireland, where as a child she had seen British troopsmarch through the streets with the heads of Irishmen stuck on theirbayonets, and where her grandfather had been hanged during thefight for Irish freedom. Her family had emigrated to Canada,and Mary, then in her twenties, moved to Michigan and then toMemphis, working as a dressmaker and a schoolteacher. At thirty-one,she married an ironworker named George Jones, and they hadfour children.

    In 1867, a yellow fever epidemic struck Memphis. All of MaryJones's children and her husband died. At the age of thirty-sevenshe left for Chicago, where she worked as a seamstress, later recalling,"Often while sewing for the lords and barons who lived in magnificenthouses on the Lake Shore Drive, I would look out of theplate glass windows and see the poor, shivering wretches, joblessand hungry, walking alongside the frozen lake front."

    She began attending meetings of the Knights of Labor, then theonly national union that admitted women, and in the 1890s beganorganizing for the United Mine Workers. In 1903, with 100,000miners on strike in Pennsylvania, including 16,000 children underage sixteen, she led a group of children on a twenty-two-day marchto New York to confront President Theodore Roosevelt at his OysterBay home. She never found him there, but on the way she spoke atmeetings of working people about child labor. In her autobiographyshe describes one of those meetings, near the Philadelphia city hall:"I put the little boys with their fingers off and hands crushed andmaimed on a platform. I held up their mutilated hands and showedthem to the crowd and made the statement that Philadelphia's mansionswere built on the broken bones, the quivering hearts anddrooping heads of these children."

    Mother Jones was scathing in her denunciation of politicians,like the congressmen who passed legislation on behalf of the railroadsbut did nothing for working people. "I asked a man in prisononce how he happened to get there. He had stolen a pair of shoes. Itold him if he had stolen a railroad he could be a United States Senator."She was equally scornful of union leaders who compromisedwith employers, like United Mine Workers president John Mitchell.In her autobiography she wrote, "Mr. Mitchell died a rich man,distrusted by the working people whom he once served."

When the Colorado strike began, Mother Jones had just come fromthe coalfields of West Virginia. "Medieval West Virginia!" shecalled it later. "With its tent colonies on the bleak hills! With its grimmen and women! When I get to the other side, I shall tell God Almightyabout West Virginia!"


Excerpted from THREE STRIKES by HOWARD ZINN DANA FRANK ROBIN D. G. KELLEY. Copyright © 2001 by Howard Zinn, Dana Frank, Robin D. G. Kelley. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Waist-High in the World

By Nancy Mairs

Beacon Press

Copyright © 1996 Nancy Mairs.All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Howard Zinn is a teacher, historian, and social activist, and the author of many books, including the best-selling A People's History of the United States and You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (Beacon / 7127-7 / $13.00 pb). He lives near Boston. Dana Frank, professor of American studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is author of the awardwinning Buy American (Beacon / 4711-2 / $17.50 pb). Robin D. G. Kelley, professor of history at New York University, is author of Race Rebels, Yo' Mama's Disfunktional! (Beacon / 0941-5 / $14.00 pb), and Freedom Dreams (Beacon / 0976-8 / $24.00 cl).

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